My first week of the 8 week meditation plan is finished, I’m rather proud to say I remembered 6 days out of 7, it’s more than I thought I would do. Our task, set by Fran MacKay, was to use the breath as our focus. I found this technique comfortable in its familiarity. Rather than try to elongate the breath, as I would during pranayama before my yoga practice, I simply sat and observed. As I expected the usual avalanche of thoughts, memories, feelings came crashing in. I would love to say I quickly acknowledged them and brought my attention back to my breath. But no, I went on the most intricate of daydreams, was in the supermarket, skiing in France, on a building site, I was old, I was a child again… many, many thoughts. Then back to the breath.
For the first few days I continued to lose myself in my fantasies before returning to my breath, my meditation. Then on the 5th day, something magical, something quite unexpected happened. It all went quiet. In my head that is, obviously 24 hour “Dubai… sparkling, car honking, sky diving, bar hopping… city” was still in full swing. However, in Sarah’s world, for a moment, a hair standing, breath holding moment, all went quiet and I was at peace. I thought to myself “There I Am.” I had been there all the time, solid, steadfast, calm, but for some reason the chitter-chatter of my mind, the constant racing and buzzing had distracted me from seeing me. That was my “ah-ha” moment and it was bliss.
Now, Fran tells us that when we feel this moment of stillness and calm it is the right side of the brain that is functioning, the part that is responsible for concentration. We’re back to the weight training again. Exercising the brain to concentrate and centre. I don’t know much about the physiological aspects of meditation however in my own words I would say this; our thoughts are responsible for the release of our hormones which are in turn responsible for our feelings. These hormones and feelings have a direct, physical effect on the functioning of our bodies. Having suffered with anxiety and panic attacks in the past I believe it is so important to re-train our minds, form better neural pathways rather than allowing our bodies to react to situations, thoughts, feelings in the same old destructive ways.
So, we move into week two. A little more self-assured and ready for action. This week’s technique is to meditate to the sound that surrounds us. I’m finding it a little more testing but I have noticed one thing, my eyes flicker open just as the timer chimes 8 minutes.