I started meditating around 2009. I woke up early, lit my candle and sat in silence. It was bliss, unless someone turned on a light near me and disturbed my peace. More on that later. But in a few months, I was clearly less reactive and less stressed.
And then I stopped meditating.
I resumed around 2012 or so, going back to the tried and true 5 AM ritual but without the candle as I had a view of trees swaying the breeze at that time. I continued it for about a year.
And then I stopped.
In 2015, I had to recall the practise and it served me well but I was cognizant of the fact that I was going to stop eventually, but this time, I wasn’t going to feel bad about it. And I did stop, but I did resume.
Meditation was used like how fair weather religious folk use prayer. When everything is alright, you don’t really need to pray or do your devotions. But when things are bad, they will fall on their knees. Please note that not all religious people do this. Some are quite devout and disciplined.
But this was me with meditation. When the stresses of life were particularly high, I needed to carve my own time for quiet, else I wouldn’t get one.
There’s this expectation that one should be meditating everyday to stave off diseases of the mind and body, but I found it akin to taking medicine when you’re not sick. I tried to be disciplined and to meditate everyday because I took great pleasure in it, but there came a point where it was causing the problem it was supposed to thwart.
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance.” — Buddha
Okay, Buddha. I get that. But hear me out.
The motive of meditation is to be in awareness. When thoughts pop up, be aware of them. When sounds come up, be aware of them. When some random family member turns on the light, shattering the darkness your eyes were accustomed to, be aware of it and be aware of the judgy thought that came up.
This is why meditation, as in the practise of sitting down in quiet with a candle or chanting “Om” or holding a mudra is good, but not necessary. Same with yoga. You can be this awareness when taking a walk, talking with a friend or washing dishes. I took this practise into washing dishes and ironing clothes, which were chores I detested, but are now chores I enjoy doing.
As a matter of fact, it would be very beneficial to take this focus on awareness, on life as it is, and incorporate it in our lives, rather than to reserve it for the early hours of the morning or at night before bed. Why not walk, talk, play, eat and do anything with this state of consciousness?
This past week I found myself meditating again because I’d been reading and writing a lot and was dreaming a lot too. When I woke up, my mind was racing. I sat on the couch, lit a candle and sat in awareness.
I tried doing it lying down in bed but it wasn’t working. I needed the original practise. It served me well, and it reminded me that as long as time is carved out to be awareness and not in the mind at all times of the day, there isn’t a need to be sitting in meditation.
Now there is no need to have quiet or to be in the dark or to be undisturbed in order to meditate. Life is itself a meditation, if we let it.
“The moment that judgement stops through acceptance of what it is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.” — Eckhart Tolle
I’m definitely not knocking sitting in traditional meditation. It is a good thing and has helped me a lot. I merely offer something that others advocate and something you may have low-key considered.