I started to incorporate meditation on a more regular basis because of my yoga-teacher training program. At first, I was perfectly content to develop my asana practice only, and I convinced myself that I was in a meditative state while moving through the poses, my mind focused on nothing else other than the breath steadily moving in and out of the nose and the movements I would make with each pass.
None of that compares to the simple intensity and difficulty of sitting still and turning inward for 10-20 minutes per day.
Now, that small portion of time is my daily goal for meditation. I knew it would be a challenge to dedicate myself to this on a regular basis, and I didn’t feel prepared to jump in totally. So I gave myself just a few minutes as a manageable baseline.
Even still, there are days when the idea of sitting for 10 minutes has me agitated. When I sat down to meditate this morning, I felt dread. I thought “Ugh, really?” I felt like a petulant teenager asked to do chores. I was clearly resisting this activity that I not only know is healthy for my mind and body, but is something that I’ve actually taken immense joy from the feeling afterward.
Yesterday, my husband and I sat down to meditate, using a 20-minute guided program. About 15 minutes in, I felt compelled to stand up and walk away. It was about 14 minutes coming, so I gave in. I felt anger and frustration swirling up from the depths of my being. My mind was conjuring past regrets, negative memories, anything to pull me from the serenity of being.
And I succumbed. It’s not a proud moment, but it’s something that I think many people practicing meditation have experienced... a day when you’re just not feeling it. You don’t even want to be there.
But an even more embarrassing element was the jealousy I felt toward my husband’s practice. I was frustrated that I couldn’t take on the practice with the same ease that he did (or at least what I perceived to be ease. It’s arrogant of me to assume that I can tell how his practice is developing).
I had a realization about this frustration and jealousy: It’s my ego coming up to disrupt my day.
I have an over-achieving, perfection-seeking ego that believes I should just naturally be good at anything I put my mind to. If I have to work hard at it, I’m embarrassing myself. God forbid I make mistakes, admit that the task is harder than I thought, or struggle with the discipline.
The act of meditation allows me to slowly distance myself from the hold that my ego has on my experience. When I am actively sitting and turning inward, finding peace, gratitude and the other benefits of meditation practice, I’ve signaled to the ego that I no longer need it to run this show.
And I think I’ve scared it. Because I don’t need this entity to dictate my experience of life, it’s really not a fan of this “new me.”
But I am.