On the topic of meditation. One of many habits I could do that I know would be good for me. I have tried to meditate at least 2-3 times a year for the last 15 years or so. My attempts were always unguided. Meaning just me and my breathing, struggling to find some magic space of calm. Trying as hard as I can NOT to think.
I’ve learned recently it’s about the worst way a beginner can attempt meditation. Listening to a podcast with Tim Ferriss he suggested an app called Headspace and the free starter course called Take 10. It’s 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. Tim explains that using the guide is very helpful for those like me who are not sure exactly how to meditate. The limit of just 10 minutes also makes it seem less daunting.
Last week I completed an interview for Union City Advice Givers Podcast, with Gina Fernandez, owner of Skin By Gina. Gina is not only a talented make-up artist and esthetician. She is a respected teacher and successful business owner. When I asked her if she had a daily habit she could share with listeners she said with no hesitation, meditation. She has practiced for 8 years.
Hearing it from her was the catalyst I needed to give it another go. I downloaded the Headspace app to give it a try. I’m only just getting started so I can’t say it’s life changing, yet. I can say this is the easiest attempt for me ever because of it being guided. I also really enjoyed the explanation video from day 3. The video shows that your goal is not to suppress your thoughts. The animation first shows thoughts popping up and you hammering them down like a game of whack-a-mole. Which is EXACTLY what I thought I was supposed to do during all previous attempts at meditating. Instead, the goal is for you to be the observer of your own thoughts and emotions. Learning mindfulness is like standing back and watching your own thoughts, urges, and emotions flow past you. Zooming Out is how I think of it.
Today during the 10 minutes the narrator reaches a point where he suggests letting your mind roam as it wants. A very clear memory came to me. I was at MLK JR High, in Berkeley, in the swimming pool where I spent most of my summers as a kid. The pool was packed. Full of screaming, splashing kids. Parents yelling at their kids. Lifeguards blowing their whistles shrilly, at kids running across wet cement or attempting to drown their siblings.
And I remembered how much I used to love to plug my nose and sink under water. Over and over I’d come up for air only to sink under water again. I craved the sensation of muting all that noise to a distant muffled hum. I would open my eyes underwater and see all of the thrashing legs and arms moving around me. I pretended I was in my own dimension and no one could see me. I was the observer.