Until recently, I didn’t feel like I had any business meditating.
I’d look at the images in the magazine articles with titles like “everyone can meditate” and “ Glow from the Inside”, sigh and go and have another glass of wine.
Without fail, any image that accompanies an article about meditation is calm and serene.
An extremely beautiful (usually) woman with perfectly manicured eyebrows (what’s with that?) sits in lotus position in organic yoga gear. She is almost always by the beach or at the very least somewhere outdoorsy and beautiful.
You can tell just by looking at her that this woman isn’t trying to remember what she has done with her daughter’s special barbie hair clip. Or whether she remembered to buy sour cream to go with the tacos.
Way too perfect
My life in no way resembles those images. Not even close.
I live 5 kms from Brisbane City and share a small house and yard with my husband, 3 children, one enormous dog and anywhere between 5 and 9 chooks. My eyebrows are rarely perfectly manicured and my meditation outfit looks quite a lot like my pyjamas. Yeah okay it is my pyjamas….
There was something about meditation, though that kept calling to me and periodically, I’d try again.
I was always especially inspired when we were on holidays at the beach.
The mixture of salt air and wind that made me feel like it was possible to quiet my mind and truly be in the moment.
I would wrap a summer scarf nonchalantly around my neck, wear my whitest singlet top and struggle to the top of a sand dune.
From a certain angle I was pretty sure the look was right. I’d breathe, calm my mind…and it was lovely.
But not really sustainable.
Pretty soon, I’d get hit in the head by one of my sons’ mis-kicked footballs and life would resume its normal chaotic path.
The big problem is there is a huge gap between where I wanted to be – she of the white clothes, fabulous eyebrows and clean and clear mind and where I was.
Mind the gap, as they say in London. It was just too big.
And then I started to read about the power of visualisation.
It turns out that when you are doing something that gives you great pleasure, your body releases endorphins into your bloodstream. These endorphins make you feel good, reduce pain and boost your immune system.
Sure, everyone knows that.
But here’s something that maybe isn’t quite as well known.
Lots of studies have shown that just imagining you are doing the same things can have the same physical effect as actually doing it.
How cool is that?
So when you do a meditation in which you imagine yourself to be somewhere beautiful peaceful and safe, your body responds as if you really are. Your breathing slows, your blood pressure lowers, your muscles relax.
Your body starts to believe in your inner reality.
And that’s when I realized that what goes on in my head is just as important as the outside picture (and seriously, those images have got to be photoshopped anyway haven’t they?)
But don’t just take my word for it.
Take 10 minutes out for yourself (yes I do know it is 2 days before Christmas but trust me on this one). Here’s a link to a beautiful visualization that Kyle-Lee Young has kindly given us permission to use.
Once it is done, take the time to feel how your body has responded. Come back and let me know. Did it work? Do you feel better?
Your outside picture might not be exactly right but your body doesn’t know that.
Now it I could just get those eyebrows right…..