In the midst of finals I took on a meditation challenge. I thought that staying zen and “cool, calm and collected” would be a piece of cake. Everyone who meditated made it look so easy. Shut your eyes, sit cross-legged on a pillow and maybe take a little snooze. I learned the hard way that keeping my busy mind quiet was not an easy task. The second my eyes shut, my thoughts were wide open and on fire.
Here’s an inside look at my finals brain.
Day 1: My Meditation Pillow in my Room
Om, Mani –shoot I need to get my nails done.
I’ll just adjust my knees and lift one foot to sit on my upper thigh. Nobody told me that I had to be flexible to meditate.
I wiggle around and start again. Om mani padme hum. Hum. Hum. Hum. I start laughing. I am a calm being. I am worthy. I am…
I hear the floor creek outside my bedroom. I live in an old house. I miss my old house. Do I miss Windsor? Why can’t I be satisfied with where I am? I give up.
Meditation used to come naturally to me. I volunteered as a Karma student at a yoga studio and had unlimited access to a quiet space. I soon realized that I only mediated when I was out of school and inevitably away from a stressful environment.
For the past eight weeks I have been heavily immersed in a journalism boot camp. Needless to say, my mind was anything but quiet.
Day 2: A Boat Ride to Dartmouth
You’re not scared of water or boats. You’re not nervous for your interview. Just ask her simple and open-ended questions and you’ll be fine. What if she doesn’t cooperate? You realize you’re going to fail the assignment, right? No stress. No pressure.
The waves are calming. The sun feels warm. Maybe I’ll meditate now.
This meditation was one of the more successful ones. I found an unexpected quiet space and I didn’t force my thoughts away. I let all of my worries come, and one at a time I found a solution.
Day 3: Infinite Waters
We’re going to listen to a meditation video today. This way we won’t have to hear any other sounds. It’s 11pm. so let’s do a bedtime one. Maybe we won’t stay up until 3am today. I am so overwhelmed.
Why am I crying?
How does this feel good?
This meditation was a release. I remember crying a few times throughout the summer after I confronted suppressed thoughts. This meditation brought to my attention situations that I wasn’t acknowledging. It was a much-needed rude awakening.
Day 4: Bleach Stings
My roots are horrible. How did I not put makeup on? The rain is making my head hurt. Well, the rain and the bleach searing into my brain. This can’t be good for my scalp. Don’t check the time; just relax. Enjoy this.
Time to wash this stuff off.
The water is refreshing and her hands are running through my hair.
I have no more thoughts.
I consider this meditation because, with my thought confrontation the previous night, this was the first time I had relaxed and just focused on my breath and my surroundings. This was more of a mindfulness moment than a meditative one. Mindfulness can also bring light to the present time and is very essential to recognizing where stress is coming from.
Day 5: Not the Last.
All of your final assignments are due this week. How are we going to do all of them at once? We don’t have time to meditate today. Let’s run and get our heart rate up. Meditation isn’t going to help you lose weight; running will.
This “final” meditation was the most challenging (aside from the first day’s.) I had stacks of work to do and couldn’t put myself in the place to meditate. This was, what I realized, the opportune time to learn to meditate when the voices were screaming not to. I struggled and resisted. I sat at the computer, continuing to resist, and felt my whole body tense up. I tilted my head back and let out a huge sigh.
I took out my pen and notebook and made a “to-do” list, which slowly turned into a “what is stressing me out” list. My lists went on until my notebook looked like the inside of a diary.
I used these thoughts and closed my eyes and took five deep breaths.
Five is the magic number.