TTC*: How many of us know we should be meditating as we TTC but don’t seem to make the time? Maybe you’ve tried it and decided that it’s not for you. Perhaps you’ve practiced meditating in the past but you can’t seem to focus, your mind just wanders around; you can’t stop thoughts from coming up. And it makes you feel so tired! Can you relate to any of these? I know I can.
Why you can’t fail
Sharon Salzberg, world renowned Buddhist mediation teacher and best selling author of Real Happiness and Real Love, says that the moment of distraction is the whole purpose of mediation, because it’s a process of beginning a new relationship with yourself. I love this. When we wander off as we sit, most of us think that we’re ‘failing’ or ‘not doing it properly’. This isn’t the case. Getting distracted in meditation is part and parcel of the process. In that moment when we start to go over our to-do list or focus on our fears, we get to choose to either a) be really hard on ourselves b) or say something like, ‘Welcome back (add your name here), I love you’.
It’s important to remind ourselves that when we sit for meditation life doesn’t stop. If you’ve just had an argument with your partner, or you’ve had a negative test result, or you just got your period, then you are going to think about it. The question then is, “Am I going to engage with this thought?” and, “When I get caught up, how am I going to speak to myself?” One option is to give yourself a hard time, speak unkindly and stay caught up in the loop. But if you decide to ‘catch it’ instead, notice where you’ve gone, and gently, lovingly bring yourself back to your breath – the relationship you have with yourself gradually changes.
You might not notice change, but your loved ones will
Many times I’ve had students say to me, “I’ve been meditating for a while and nothing has changed.” It can be hard to see change in ourselves when it’s subtle. But if you ask the people around you, who live with you and love you, if they’ve noticed any changes, you’ll often hear a resounding “Yes!” My friend Gemma told me “I committed to meditate every day for 30 days. At the end I didn’t notice anything different but my parter did. My job is really stressful and at night I usually come home all worked up. She noticed that I was still annoyed but the ‘heat’ was taken out of it. I seemed calmer, more able to deal with what was thrown at me. The only change I had made was my daily meditation practice. I guess it was working without me noticing it.”
If you’re struggling with life right now, tune in and be still. Start small. Sit and meditate for just 5 minutes a day (we all have 5 minutes don’t we?) See if you can integrate it into something you’re already doing eg. sitting on the bus or the train on the way to work, or in your lunch break. When you get distracted, notice where you’ve gone and gently come back to your breath. If you wander off 100 times, come back a 100 times, but with kindness. This is the practice. The moment you come back to your heart, you remember who you are.
*TTC Trying To Conceive