Finding quiet

mudraI went to my first meditation class this past October. A new yoga studio focused on balance and wellness had recently opened in my community. It seemed fateful.

The class is an introduction to breathing and meditation and each week we try different things, feeling our way through what works for us individually and what feels less responsive. Ultimately the goal is to step away from the pace of life, and focus on a mindfulness that is healing and quieting.

Before long, this Wednesday evening class became a stabilizing force. By mid-week I can feel my anxiety building, my heart pulled in a variety of directions and steeped in the responsibility of motherhood and career. I struggle to focus.  This hour to check in on my inner well being helps me find my centre, clear my mind and fuel the rest of my week. It’s the primary reason I chose meditation as my first theme for 2011. In the short time since initiating my practice it has become an important anchor that I’d like to infuse more consistently throughout my whole life.

Before Christmas I read Buddhism for Mothers: A calm approach to caring for yourself and your children. It was prescribed to me by my therapist, and once started I was quickly hooked. Sarah Napthali, mother of two boys, strives to apply Buddhist teaching in her daily life. Her book, the first in a series for mothers, provides a map for nurturing self, while coping with the day-to-day challenges of motherhood. She provides an introduction to parenting through spirituality and meditative practice in a most accessible and engaging way.

She says:

Mindfulness—which we practice in meditation—provides us with energy to fulfil our daily tasks, calm to deal with negative emotions and insights which help us learn and grow spiritually…Meditation is a time to become familiar with more positive mind states, to immerse ourselves in them and to experience for ourselves a taste of clarity, calmness and kindness.

Indeed, I have felt this profound sense of clarity. Perhaps because it so new to me, the sensation after an hour of meditation feels crisp and invigorating. I’m not sure why or even if I’m even doing it right. But I don’t believe that matters, because I know how I feel in that moment, and I feel it throughout my self, body and mind. Often when I reach that space, a place that feels as though I’m just outside myself, floating and profoundly calm, I feel pure joy. And the beauty is, it’s for the sake of joy itself.

In Women Food and God Geneen Roth writes:

“…to paying attention to the deeper song, the deeper truth; you without your story of you. You as you experience yourself directly, here now. When you sit down, when you listen, when you sense your body directly, there is what Eckhart Tolle calls ‘animating presence.'”

When I’m in that room everything else seems to stop. I feel suspended in time, surrounded by peace and tranquility and free of any nagging negative emotion. The time spent sitting with a quiet mind instills a sense of balance and spaciousness that allows me to accept my life and provides energy to tackle it.

This joy, it’s fleeting and hard to hold on to. As soon as I acknowledge it, think about it, it retreats and leaves me craving more. So this month I resolve to meditate twice a week outside of this class. It’s the first step to creating routine, to making it a firm part of my life. As I do, I’ll write more about the importance of meditation, what it can do and how it’s working for me.

Image: ‘mudra‘ via a Creative Commons license

25 thoughts on “Finding quiet

  1. Lindsey says:

    I relate to so much of what you write, so intensely, Christine … I know the fleeting feeling of quiet, and also the frustration of not being able to hold onto it as it flies. I am really looking forward to reading more of your writing about your meditation journey.

  2. Katrina says:

    One of my goals for 2011 is to establish a regular meditation practice. Looking forward to hearing how your practice develops!

  3. Chantal says:

    I am looking forward to reading this. Pre-kids I used to meditate. I haven’t found a way to work it back in. I hope to be able to in the next year or so when D2 is a bit older.

  4. I am so moved by this post, probably because slowing down and being mindful is both enticing and elusive for me. I am contemplating trying yoga on a more permanent basis, as I feel I could use a stabilizing force to help me find peace amidst the multiple demands of motherhood, work, and writing. And if it brings joy, all the better, because there’s no such thing as too much joy!

  5. I am thankful for this post because I have grown increasingly curious about meditation and its benefits. I have never tried it (not sure why) but I am intrigued and interested in learning more… I certainly want to learn to be more mindful in my own life.

    • Christine says:

      I am far from being knowledgeable enough to offer any real advice about meditation, except to say that, for me, taking a class has been the key. It’s offered me a glimpse into different kinds of meditation, and made me focus at least once a week on actually doing it. I would highly recommend it.

  6. Amber says:

    I have found my yoga practice to be the same way. I can’t wait for my Wednesday class to start up again – it’s my oasis in the week.

  7. denise says:

    I am inspired by your experience. Meditation has always been on my wish list–I’ve only ever done it twice. Maybe, because you’re sharing your experience, I will actually start to do it.

  8. Stacia says:

    Wow, I have never felt this feeling you and the authors describe. “Me as I experience myself directly, here now”? You mean with spit-up on my sweater and peanut butter stuck under my nails? Wait, probably not. Now, I want the real thing, the thing you describe. Not just want it, need it.

  9. ayala says:

    I am excited and intrigued to read more on this. I’ve been wanting to join a class and I’ve been too busy to. I think I may have to make it a priority. Thanks for sharing !

  10. You’ve sold it to me! I’ll have to look into it.

    I know this sounds strange, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about: depression, in a way, is a gift, if you can overcome it. By having it, we learn so much about ourselves, and we try new things that in the end, make us stronger.

  11. Kameron says:

    I have such a hard time quieting my mind. Was it really hard at first?? I find I can’t stop thinking even during a full hour massage. Maybe if I took a class or read a book I could learn how to turn it off.

  12. Finding inner quiet is something I”ve never been good at. I am impressed with what you are getting from meditation. I tried it once or twice; got nowhere. Maybe I ought to give it another shot?

    • Christine says:

      The only thing I know for sure, now that I’ve been at it several months is that it isn’t easy, but when you find those moments (even if brief) they make all the trying worth it. It’s really a revelation. It also takes practice. I’m only just getting started and not every session is good. I suppose it goes to the old saying, anything worth having is worth working hard for. (Or something like that).

  13. ShannonL says:

    Keep it up, lady! Glad I’m able to keep up with you and how you’re doing on here. I look forward to reading more!

  14. When my boys were very small, I went to Buddhism classes every week. It wasn’t meditation, but rather instruction on the tenants of the faith, but it was so peaceful. It wasn’t for me as a religion, but I still apply some of their teachings to my daily life. They’re very valuable.

  15. Kelly says:

    I’m so impressed that you’re pushing for and claiming this space, Christine. The thought of it makes me itchy!

    • Christine says:

      Thanks Kelly! I appreciate that. I have a long way to go to really integrate it into my life, but now that I’ve felt how good it can be I’m fully committed.

  16. Rudri says:

    I need meditation. I need it desperately. I am listening to Pema Chodran Meditative Practice CD’s right now to help me be still first in my own element and then perhaps I will try to look into a class to help center myself further. Thanks for the inspiration to start and/or continue to meditate.

  17. […] In the more than three months since that day, I’ve stayed the course on my medication despite my unease and fear of it, I made small changes in my personal and professional life, I looked inside and evaluated, I’ve had groundbreaking and profound personal realizations through therapy and I focused on acceptance and forgiveness. I’ve been reading and reading and reading. I’ve been inspired, I’ve cried, I’ve yelled, I’ve felt humble and even joy. […]

  18. Donna MKHM says:

    I read Woman, Food and God, well listened to the Audiobook, five times. It really helped. I really liked her way of meditating, just listen to yourself breath quietly and don’t bolt, come back! I have recently been on a journey to simplify and get back to me. My motto, “Less Stuff, More Life” (A guest on Oprah said this and it has stayed with me). You writing is great, your battle with depression is not to unlike what many of us are facing, diagnosed or not! Thanks!

  19. […] people commented on my meditation posts about how hard they find it to sit still and empty their mind. I struggle with this too, but I find […]

  20. […] The pace of life has taken over and I haven’t put on the brakes. I didn’t get to my meditation class because I feared spreading germs to others who were seeking their own calm and comfort. A nasty […]

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