My first-time meditating was in the 90s. A dear friend told me it was similar to tripping, which appealed to my oh-so hedonistic 20-year-old self. I was ready for a new experience. I closed my eyes and waited for the bliss to wash away the busy-ness and tension, and for colours to appear. Instead, I got a lot of noisy thoughts and then after a while, an empty void – a nothing ness. I panicked.
Needless to say, my journey with meditation since then has been an interesting one. The very fact I was afraid and didn’t know how to simply be with myself – which, when you think about that for a moment, is such a weird but true experience. It was a clear guidepost. I knew this was a necessary inward journey to take.
Having learning concentration-based practices (focusing on one thing) in my 20s, for many years I used meditation as a way to find some inner calmness, relief from stress and worry, and even deep rest. It was (another) way to kind of ‘get off my head’ for a while, which I fondly referred to as ‘mediCating’. I know many can relate to this, and I don’t want to diminish this part of my journey at all – it was a life-saver for a long time, and a much-needed reprieve from all of the chaos and restlessness that was inside.
But meditative practices such as yoga, meditation and somatics, can offer so much more than a simple reprieve if we want it. If we’re willing to let go of all agenda and explore the qualities of dedication, openness and curiosity, there is MUCH more to be discovered.
So often I’ve been ‘stuck’ in my practice – either repeating the same old thing out of habit, familiarity or even a sense of mastery, so it becomes too much of a habit. And at times, there’s been no consistency at all – either not showing up for myself (as I’m far too busy dahhhhhling), or flitting from one practice or teacher to another, hungry to collect experiences that might ease the discomfort quietly gnawing away inside. As I reflect, this has really been a microcosm of my life. And perhaps both of these approaches have been a necessary and maybe an inevitable part of the journey.
deepening practice means having a practice that supports you in your life; through growth as you and your life inevitably changes.
deepening practice means using these tools to explore deep internal transformation and finding emotional freedom where it counts i.e. in our daily lives and relationships.
deepening practice means finding a deeper and kinder relationship with ourselves, so that we can unearth all of the beliefs, hurts and experiences that have covered us over. And to hold the times we’ve acted from our own pain, fear and suffering with more compassion.
deepening practice means carrying insights and intention into every moment – seeing every moment is an opportunity to practice more kindness, more forgiveness, more love, to ourselves and others.
This is by no means THE definitive list – it’s simply an idea I’ve been exploring through my own practice and teaching. When we practice in a way that is curious and open, rather than rigid and habitual, it often brings more joy, peace, and stability to inside and intro the relationships around us.
So giving ourselves full permission to be a learner; to still be learning life’s lessons AS THEY UNFOLD is where it’s at. And staying open and curious is essential; understanding that we can’t see our blind spots a single moment before we see them. Sigh, it seems to be the way of things.
So what does deepening your practice look like in reality?
Firstly, meeting yourself where you are –
If you don’t yet have a regular practice yet, start one. Find a way to hold yourself accountable – a class or a practice buddy can be useful. Make it non-negotiable.
If you don’t know how to meditate or do yoga, take a course or class.
If you’ve been doing the same thing for a while – either practicing or teaching - and it’s not helping you to find more freedom, shake it up and try something new like joining a discussion group, go on retreat
or finding a new teacher.
Truth is, we’re always practicing something. Whether it’s worry, stress and fear, or acceptance, kindness and peace – we get to choose. We really do.
This is a wild ride folks. And from the bottom of my heart, I hope you choose well.
I’m here with you, riding the waves too. Let’s hold on gently to each other as we bob about together.
All love xx