Whoa, what a doozey of a question! This can be answered in an almost unlimited amount of ways. Because of that I have decided to answer this question the only way I can; through my own understanding and experience with meditation.
I have been interested and curious about meditation and it’s benefits for over ten years. However, that does not mean I have been “practicing” meditation that long by any means. I flirted with it when I went to retreats and took yoga classes. I also led basic, guided meditations in flow classes I’ve taught over the years. I even took a 12 week course called Mindfulness Based Stress Relief (MBSR); which is a meditation practice created in a clinical setting, that has been proven to reduce stress and even pain in some clients. I have also read books by many people who practice and espouse the great benefits of it. All of this was very informative, but it wasn’t until I started practicing meditation regularly, that I began to understand the purpose of meditation for me.
Three years ago, I embarked on an unexpected journey. A journey comprised of an emotional, mental and physical breakdown. As things progressed I had to step back from a successful career in direct sales, as well as other work commitments. At the lowest point I was unable to perform basic tasks, and was so exhausted I was in bed much of the day. Needless to say, I all of a sudden found a tremendous amount of time at my disposal. After I got over my pity party, I started to meditate. It was something I had studied and been intrigued by for years. It was something I had wanted to incorporate into my life. I believed in the benefits. I just had never slowed down enough to do it. Ironic, don’t you think?
As I look back on the birth of my meditation practice, I realize why it happened the way it did. Am I thankful for the deep, dark place I found myself? Yes, absolutely. It created fallow ground for my practice to grow. Did it need to get to that critical point? I’m not sure. What I have come to see clearly now, is that I found myself in such a compromised state because I hadn’t meditated. If I had started a practice sooner, I would not have found myself in such a crisis. Let me explain why.
”What keeps you from meditating on a regular basis?”
This was the first m&m&em question I ever asked. It’s of vital importance. One reason was my belief that I didn’t have enough time. I never had enough time. I would never get everything done that I needed to do. This belief in time shortage-ness laid the groundwork for an incidious habit to take hold. Because I believed I never had enough time, I had to sacrifice in certain areas to make things work, right? What areas were those? They were mostly the areas of self-care. I was sending myself and others around me the message that I was not worth the time and effort. It’s therefore no surprise that after deferring my needs to those of everyone else for 40 years, I found myself in a crisis.
For me meditation addresses those two fundamentally flawed beliefs. First the idea of time shortage-ness. I couldn’t imagine even having an extra five minutes to sit quietly. I was so crazy busy. Doing what? How important was it? Ironically, it was so important for me to get things done, that I became sick enough that I couldn’t getting ANYTHING done. One could say that I could not afford NOT to meditate. The other belief was that self-care was unnecessary or expendable. I obviously found out this was not the case through my breakdown. Meditation caused me to deliberately pause and put myself first. Annihilating both of my previous beliefs. This was the first baby step.
As I paused and put myself first, I started to experience more things. First, I realized I was not my beliefs. I realized I could change my beliefs if they didn’t serve me. I started to shift from a victim to an observer who had choices. I started to get inspiration in my meditations. Solutions to problems. I started to breathe more deeply and fully. I started to feel better. Have more compassion for others. I came to learn of my worthiness. I learned that I was enough. I was able to completely heal my body, my marriage, even my relationship with food.
How can I attribute all these miraculous things to meditation? Through my belief of what meditation truly is; it’s a practice of quieting our minds and bodies enough that the message of our true self can come through. Don Miguel Ruiz calls it our authentic self, Esther Hicks calls it source. Some call it the universe or God. Five years ago, I had a personal experience with this aspect of myself and have come to know it as my true self. Our true self is pure potential. It is perfect. It is worthy. It is divine. Our true self is always pouring love to us, every second of every day. We are born with complete connection to our true self. As we grow and learn, we gradually become separated from it. Meditation gives us the opportunity to reconnect.
It was Christmastime. One day I felt compelled to book a hotel in town; indefinitely. I assured my husband I was fine, and told my kids everything was ok. They were all surprised because I had NEVER gone away by myself. I said I had no idea why I was going, just that I had to. I packed up in about ten minutes (if I forget anything I was only going to be a few minutes away), hopped in my car, drove to the hotel, checked into my room, put my bag down and sat on the bed. What was I doing? I had never done anything like this. I had never felt anything like this. A force stronger that me, had led me to this place, at this time. Then it happened. An almost audible voice started to talk to me; “Emilie, I am your true self. I am what you have been seeking and calling out for. I have always been with you. I am everything you desire to be. I am the answer to all your prayers. I am you in perfection. I am your worthiness. I am your best friend. You are never alone, because I am with you. You are never in need, because you are already completely whole. The best news is that you have been these things all along, you have just forgotten. I am reminding you now. You are all these things. Now you will remember. Now you will know the truth of who you are. Now you are whole”.
with love and belief, emilie