How I got interested in meditation

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.

5 thoughts on “How I got interested in meditation

  1. I had never attended a class before attending Wendy’s class just a few weeks ago. I learned how to meditate from an audio book I found on iTunes called “How to Meditate” by Pema Chodron. Meditation opened a door into a state of mind that is calm and peaceful – and devoid of thoughts or labels. It is being fully present with your breath, with the experience of being here in the present moment.

  2. I also am a Type A personality and dont know how to slow down. This year with Breast cancer stopped me a bit in my tracks but am now feeling stronger and feel that Meditation would help me alot. I notice that there is a group in NOrth Vancouver. Would this be a good place to start. I am not sure that a weekend would suit me at this time.
    Do you know of any DVDs that would be worth getting
    S B

    • Hi there. Wonderful questions you ask. There’s so much to say! Here are my key suggestions:

      – Meditation is best learned in a guided group situation, in my opinion. It is usually difficult and frustrating to try to learn by reading a book or listening to a CD. Try a few different places (sitting groups, temples, etc depending on whether you want a non-religious bent or not) in order to find what you are comfortable with. There are many groups in the Vancouver area. Find one that isn’t too strict and knows how to make people feel confident in what they are doing. It also should not cost a lot. Not that I’m pushing my classes, but I will be teaching in Burnaby in November, so let me know if you are interested in that and I can send you the information when it’s ready. I teach many different techniques and make people feel at ease.
      – please read my ‘Learn to Meditate’ page for important tips
      – there are some wonderful meditation/mindfulness leaders out there. My personal favourites are Jon Kabat-Zinn and Pema Chodron. Reggie Ray is good and very detailed but I find his teachings particularly SLOW. Tip: at Banyen Books you can listen to CDs before you buy them.
      – I also like http://www.tricycle.com. They have many kinds of online ‘retreats’ that you can play at any time. Sometimes the first track is free but most require a paid subscription.
      – If you are a member of InspireHealth, they offer meditation classes as part of their offerings. A great place to start!
      – As a Type A personality, try not to get frustrated with meditation. It’s a practice worth cultivating. Also, learn and practice mindfulness techniques because this is what you can use in your everyday life, especially when you don’t have the time to sit and meditate.

      I hope this is helpful! Honestly, meditation and mindfulness is what got me through the cancer experience and cultivates joy in my life today. Even though I have wonderful support people around me, and a wonderful employer, this is what lets you become aware and alive.
      ~Wendy

    • Good question, because people often think that meditation is only about stress reduction. It can help with so much more! Here is what I have experienced, and what my students have reported to me. Keep in mind that the following result from a cultivation of meditation and mindfulness practice, so it’s important to be patient to see the results.

      • Resiliency – ability to handle stress better and not react as harshly to challenging situations.
      • Self-Awareness – becoming more aware of own thoughts and reactions.
      • Acceptance – increased acceptance of what goes on in work life and personal life, and judging others less.
      • Clarity – thinking more clearly and calmly.
      • Personal joy – Cultivating a sense of peace & calm, stress reduction and relaxation. Reducing manufactured emotions/thoughts.

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