One of my goals for this year was being able to meditate for 30 minutes. I am nothing if not ambitious. I think the most I achieved was 4 before getting completely frustrated and distracted. Oh, and really, really uptight and anxious.
I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s meant to happen. It was certainly not what I was hoping to get out of it.
Then I had an interesting conversation with someone at work who pointed out that feeling the state people (other than me) achieve while meditating is more to do with being in the state of flow, rather than specifically being able to put your ankles on your hips and say ohhhmmmmmm.
A lot of people get this state from running. That’s never worked for me either. The only thing I get from running is aching hips and a weird heart rhythm for the next three hours. Again, not relaxing.
That’s when I heard that people were using Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages principles to not only become creatively unstuck, but also to get that sense of peaceful personal insight that comes from meditation. I took one look and realised I had the four things needed to make this engaging for me:
- Plenty of attractive notebooks
- Even more pens
- Even more inks
- Also some coffee and candles to create a bit of ambience and a sense of ritual.
So I decided to give it a go.
I started on the 6th July. Since then I’ve got through nearly three A5 lined notebooks (think moleskine, although I’ve discovered that a Leuchtturm 1917 is much better in terms of paper quality and features. Especially when using my current favourite fountain pen and ink combo, the TWSBI 580 1.1 Stub nib with Iroshizuku yama-budo). Turns out I’ve got a lot of thoughts going on.
The benefits have been pretty significant. I make sure that I start each set with three gratitudes. Not just in a list form, but really describing what I’m grateful for and why. After that, it’s whatever springs to mind. It can be positive, negative or just really, really boring.
Even though I’ve only been doing it for just over a month, I’ve already found I’m calmer and less responsive to external stress when it happens. I’ve become better at creative problem solving, both at work and play. I’ve become more willing to trust the universe, or whatever it is out there. Slowly, I’m becoming more accepting of myself. With that, comes a growing confidence too. Those last two points are a much gentler curve, but there is progress now where there used to be none.
So I’ve redefined my goal. It is no longer meditate for 30 minutes, but instead 30 minutes of daily meditative practices.
Sometimes, it’s about walking the road that’s right for you, not the one most travelled.