When I was a kid, my parents sent me to summer camp organized by our local Hindu temple. For one week a year, I was surrounded by other Indian-American kids - a trippy experience in itself growing up in Western Pennsylvania.
In addition to typical summer camp activities like swimming, crafts, and gossiping about cute boys, we had to endure boring religious lectures and 7am yoga class.
This was in the 80s, long before yoga was cool. But the one thing I absolutely loved about those forced yoga sessions was the quiet relaxation at the end. Savasana (or "corpse pose" which they thankfully didn't call it!) involved lying flat on your back and relaxing every part of your body as the instructor called it out. It was quiet, still, and lovely, after being wrenched out of bed so early to do multiple Sun Salutation sequences before breakfast. (Yes, I'm still bitter.)
Through the years I've taken a handful of yoga classes at various gyms and have always loved the guided meditation at the end. But I never seriously considered any kind of meditation practice at home - it didn't occur to me that I could replicate that feeling without the yoga class and instructor.
Late one night as I was browsing the Internet and wasting time, I came across a talk given by hip-hop exec Russell Simmons at Google. The title was "Success Through Stillness", so I was intrigued enough to click on it and watch.
Turns out Russell Simmons is really into meditation. He does it twice a day. His daughters do it too. He has a program teaching kids to meditate in public schools.
What hooked me was that this was not religious meditation. There were no prayers or mantras to be chanted. He called it "being still". He demonstrated how you could do it, just by sitting in a chair and setting your phone alarm for 15 minutes. Easy-peasy.
So the next morning, I woke up before my girls did and tried it. After just one session I was hooked. I don't know why exactly, because it seems kind of boring and inefficient to sit still. 15 minutes is a LONG time. But when I'm not watching the clock, it goes by fast.
It starts my day off on an incredibly peaceful, unhurried note. I make myself a cup of tea, bring it down to my craft room and sit in the super comfy chair. I just sit. Sometimes with my eyes closed, but mostly with eyes open. As Simmons describes in his talk, a lot of thoughts flow through my mind and I just observe them floating by. I don't write anything down or make lists. I just sit. I listen to how quiet it is with everyone else asleep. I drink some tea and revel in being alone. I just sit.
What I've noticed in the last few weeks is that I get good creative ideas when I'm just sitting there - scrapbook layout or album possibilities, blog post ideas, ways to improve my business or solve some issue at work. I don't dwell on them or actively try to figure something out - they just show up in my brain, which is kind of awesome.
I'd like to work up to doing this twice a day, but haven't made time in the evening yet. 15 minutes is working for me and I don't see any reason to increase the session time. On the days I manage to get up early and meditate, I can tell I'm calmer and more patient with the crazy at home and at work.
So weird. I never imagined myself meditating, but now not doing it feels like something is missing in my day.
Have you tried it?