Meditation and mindfulness play a large role in my life today. I know this brings me joy in my life. But how did I get started with meditation? I’ve got a ‘Type A’ personality, so let me paint you the picture of my introduction to meditation…
Before meditation came into my life, I appeared calm on the outside, but on the inside there was constant mind chatter, chaotic thoughts, worry and unrest. My mind was like a monkey, jumping around uncontrollably! I often manufactured negative thinking and self-doubt without even realizing it. I remember feeling almost proud of being a Type A personality – I couldn’t even get through a yoga class without feeling antsy like there were better things to be doing with my time. I couldn’t sit at home for more than a few minutes before I felt I had to get up and DO something.
Signing up for a tai chi class was the first springboard for me. I really got into tai chi and found it to be a calming, moving meditation; I even started teaching beginner classes. It was a great way to start slowing down but I was still MOVING, unlike seated meditation or yoga that I wasn’t quite ready for or interested in doing. Once I got better at tai chi, I started to feel the calmness and energy flow happening within myself. That is when I felt a door opening for me, feeling there was something more about my inner sense that I wanted to explore.
Like most people, I was a bit curious about meditation but it seemed so foreign to me. I thought: “Is it weird? What does it do for people?” No way was I brave enough to attend a meditation class. So, as most people do, I got a hold of a meditation CD and read a book about meditation. I tried meditation a few times using a CD, tried stereotypical things like staring at a candle, and thought “I can’t do this! Am I doing this right? Am I the only one who can’t clear my mind? I’m not a religious person; is meditation a religious practice?” So I stopped trying for awhile.
The turning point for me was when I decided to take the bold step of going to a sitting group that included a beginner’s lesson. This was through the Westcoast Dharma Society that held inexpensive, non-residential weekend meditation retreats at the University of British Columbia. This felt like a safe way to learn meditation – you didn’t have to stay overnight anywhere, and could leave whenever you wanted to! I must say, however, that going with an open mind was necessary. It felt like everyone knew each other, knew what to do, how to behave, how to sit, etc, but I didn’t let that bother me.
From that point on, I developed the confidence to attend many courses and sitting groups. It’s basically become a hobby of mine to seek out different meditation experiences and techniques, which has led me to sharing what I’ve learned with others.