The first time I was exposed to meditation was probably when I was about 15. My best friend, Meghan and I decided to try it out while we were in Plettenberg Bay and I remember us sitting on the edge of a hill, legs crossed in the typical meditation pose. We closed our eyes, expecting to embark on a magnificent journey but after about 5 seconds of silence we burst out laughing. You know how things are always so much funnier in serious moments? Well Megs and I thought meditating was hysterical.
After that I gave up on meditation, thinking it was something I couldn’t do. I would laugh and lose concentration, and I thought that I obviously wasn’t spiritual enough to do it. Then about two years later I somehow stumbled across these YouTube meditations by TheHonestGuys. I can’t remember what was going on in my life at the time or why I had decided to attempt meditation again, but I can just remember being completely transfixed with the videos – or should I say audios – that I found.
It was a lot easier to meditate to guided meditations because you could just listen, and focus on what TheHonestGuys were saying. Most of their meditations are based on fictional worlds such as Middle Earth. They also have ones on unicorns, fairies, oceans, beaches and forests. I particularly liked the one where you sat on a bench in the middle of the field, just existing.
However, despite my fascination with these meditations, meditating never became a habit and I only did it once every few months. I suppose I had heard about the benefits of meditation but it was never something I was that interested in. I just did it for fun.
It wasn’t until I moved out, that meditation had a significant impact on my life again. I was very lonely, unhappy and helpless those first few months and I did go through periods of emptiness. I cried a lot and felt really insecure.
Knowing that I couldn’t just continue to live in a negative state of mind, I looked up TheHonestGuys’ meditations again. I would listen to one every single night and the one I found myself listening to the most was called Running with Wolves. This was a very freeing, empowering one and I was probably drawn to it because I love dogs.
I would say that meditations did contribute towards my Spiritual Awakening that I had a few weeks later. They made me feel more confident and in control of my life.
Near the end of the year, once I had completely recovered from my period of helplessness, I discovered a meditation by Deepak Chopra called Meditations for Transformation and Higher Consciousness. This was incredibly powerful and after I listened to it, I noticed a bunch of unusual things happening in my life. There were so many synchronicities. I would think about certain people and then bump into them. If I thought of a topic, a few hours later I would suddenly be bombarded by a bunch of information about it even if I hadn’t actively searched for it. That meditation made me realise that we are all in control of our lives, and we can determine the events around us.
There was this one day in particular that proved that we are indeed in control of our reality. I had just meditated to Meditations for Transformation again and when I looked at my phone, there was a message from my mom, telling me that my aunt’s dog was missing. Since I was still very much in the meditation vibe I said to myself: “Well I’m in control of my reality, so Fez is fine. They will find him.”
2 minutes later my mom phoned to tell me that they had found my aunt’s dog.
In December, I discovered this free app called Insight Timer. There are tonnes of meditations on it as well a timer section that you can use if you don’t want to consume data. The thing I love about the app is that you can collect milestones. For every 10 consecutive days that you meditate, you gain a yellow star. When you have 5 yellow stars, you get an orange one. I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more dedicated when I have a streak to uphold, and so it’s not surprising that I’ve recently just reached my 100th consecutive day of meditation.
I was extremely curious to see what the effects of meditating every day are, and now I’m happy to report what I’ve discovered.
The first thing I’ve noticed is that I hardly ever get stressed anymore. While other people have been panicking about the workload and upcoming tests and assignments, I have been completely calm. The other day I was sitting in an Economics tutorial, waiting for the test that we would write in the next hour. Everybody around me was frantically looking through past papers and asking the tutors questions. I just sat there reading a book, not feeling worried at all. (Economics is not easy, guys and if I hadn’t been meditating I would probably be having a break down with the rest of the class).
I’m so calm and peaceful inside, and that’s how I feel most of the time. Life is a lot more enjoyable now that I’m not wasting so many days stressing about something in the future. Worrying doesn’t really contribute towards anything and in fact I think it hinders your performance. My marks have improved since I’ve stopped stressing and I feel the happiest I’ve ever been.
The second benefit I’ve noticed is that I don’t fear death anymore. When I was about six, I remember sitting on the couch with my mom, asking her all these questions about where we go when we die. I have been brought up in a Christian family who believe in God and heaven, but the thing that I didn’t understand is that since there are so many religions, why is Christianity right?
Those thoughts didn’t stay behind with six-year-old Jess and they instead followed me all the way into high school. As much as I liked the idea of a heaven, I was extremely scared that when we died we would just be nothing. I couldn’t get my head around the concept of nothing. How can we just not exist?
Another thought that scared me was that something in space could destroy Earth in a mere second. Tiny little ants get stepped on all the time so couldn’t that happen to us? In the grand scheme of things, we are so small. What are the chances of us still being alive?
Since I’ve started meditating every day, these fears have vanished. Humans have portrayed death in a way that makes it look negative. It’s the enemy. The worst thing that can happen.
Death is a part of life though. It’s not good or bad. It just is. Meditation has helped me accept that. I don’t fear it anymore.
Many people don’t meditate because they say that it’s impossible or very difficult to stop thinking. What I’ve come to realise though is that meditation is not the eradication of thought. Instead it’s the observation of thought.
Meditation is simply about being present and in the now. I think we spend most of the time in the past or the future. We analyse things that happened and we dream and imagine things that we want to happen. Often by picturing these events, we can become stressed out, sad or angry.
Meditation is a time to take a break from all of that. As Eckhart Tolle said: The present moment is all you ever have.
I find the best way to meditate is to focus on your breath. Take nice, slow breaths and when you feel, your thoughts starting to drift, simply concentrate on your breathing again. I find it a very calm and grounding exercise.
Other ways to stay in the present are:
Focusing on a colour in your mind.
Saying a positive word either to yourself or out loud (Love. Peace.)
Saying an affirmation to yourself or out loud (I am beautiful. I am loved.)
Picture a symbol – either an existing one or something that you have made up in your mind. (A rainbow. The peace sign. A rainbow coloured snowflake)
Picture a beautiful location such as a forest and imagine yourself either sitting there or walking around.
It is not necessary to meditate sitting upright with your legs crossed. You could do it lying down or sitting on a chair with your feet placed firmly on the ground. I believe that you can actually meditate anywhere in any position. You could do it in a lecture, shower or at work. Of course, it feels better when you’re comfortable.
Another misconception that people have is that you have to meditate for an hour straight. While this is something you could work towards achieving, it’s much more beneficial for you to meditate for short periods of time EVERY DAY. You may not think that 5 minutes will make much of a difference in your life, but when you do 5 minutes every single day, you’ll notice the positive results.
I do strongly recommend that you try meditation, but I don’t want you to force yourself to do it. If it feels like the right time, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. As you can see from my history, I have attempted meditation over and over again. It’s taken me 5 years to finally get into a habit. I also know that some guided meditations are only significant to certain people in certain times. The other day I tried to meditate to Meditations for Transformation again and discovered that it doesn’t have the same effect on me now as it did in the past.
That’s fine though. I learnt what I was supposed to learn from it last year, and now I don’t need it anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m on a different frequency. Maybe it’s because I’m in a different part of life. Who knows though. Maybe it will appear again in the future, carrying the same message or something else. When you’re ready to know something, it will appear.