The Right Way to Meditate

Martha is easily one of my favourite people in the meditation class. She turned to me midway through the second session and whispered “I have no idea what the hell is going on here.” – and I knew instantly we’d be kindred spirits.

She’s brash, outspoken, quick to laugh and definitely the most skeptical person in the bunch. And as soon as we lie on our yoga mats to meditate, she inevitably drifts off and snores like a truck driver.

In the hushed and focused environment of our gatherings, she often makes me smile with her brutal honesty. “Well I wanted no part of that meditation,” she admitted after a guided reflection where we were encouraged to imagine ourselves floating underwater. “I can’t even friggin’ swim so I just sat here and made my grocery list!”

It’s not that the class isn’t amazing. It is. I am learning a ton and breathing and trusting the process and I can see that perhaps the skyscraper of worries I’ve meticulously built up over the years is starting to crack and shift just a little tiny bit.Or maybe I’m viewing it differently. Either way – I feel better.

Just last week we were led through a half-hour seated meditation. When it came time to share our experience, Martha blurted out “I’m not doing it right! My mind wanders endlessly or I fall asleep. I keep thinking about what I have to do and what happened yesterday and when I should book my next nail appointment. And you people all look so smugly blissful. What am I doing wrong? How come you are getting it and I can’t?!”

Our leader simply smiled peacefully and said “By a show of hands – who else in the class doesn’t feel like they are meditating the right way?” All 18 of us raised our hands. And Martha started to cry.

“The answer is that there is no right way to meditate.” our teacher shared. “You come to the practice and observe what happens. So you fall asleep. That’s ok. So your mind wanders. That’s ok. Everyone will have a unique experience that is right for them. Just keep coming back to your breath. And please be gentle with yourself.”

Isn’t that just the perfect metaphor for life?  It’s so darn easy to look around and think that everyone else has their shit together. Look at that perfect family, that gorgeous couple, those well-behaved kids, the beautiful house, her amazing career, his killer body – that zenned-out person meditating across the room. And we think- what am I doing wrong? Why isn’t this working out for me? It’s frustrating and depressing and makes us feel really alone.

But the truth is we all have messy parts to our lives if you scratch just beneath the surface. We all struggle. Sometimes the dog drags his butt across the freshly washed floor, or you rip the crotch out of your jeans while  volunteering in a kindergarten class, and sometimes you flip out at your kids and threaten to move to California! (or is that just me??)

We all wonder if we are doing things right. Martha just had the guts to say it out loud.

After class I walked to my car with Martha.  Her eyes were still red from crying and I gave her a hug as we parted ways. “Thanks for saying what you did tonight,” I said. “It was really brave.” Her face broke into a wide grin. “I really feel so much better knowing the rest of you are just as shitty as I am at this whole meditating thing.” 

Then she drove off before I could tell her that I have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time either : )

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There I Said It

Well hello! It’s been well over a year since I’ve written a single word on my blog.

I could site the usual excuses: Life is SO busy!, My three uber-successful and brilliantly-parented kids take up all my free time; I’m a super accomplished full-time writer now; I was tied up making homemade organic almond milk and fermented nut cheese; and my husband and I were busy planning romantic getaways to reaffirm our perfect love.

But I won’t bore you with the details. Sufficed to say, aside from the rigours of keeping myself afloat, the truth is that I simply got sick of my own writing.

I recently re-read the “About Me” page on my blog and seriously had to stifle a gag. My proudest accomplishment is getting my three kids to drink their green smoothies. Barf! How smug is this Lori Leigh Wilson character? And you people followed me…..what were you thinking?!

Ok, so if you’ll give me another chance then I’d like to start anew. Thanks to Jaclyn Desforge and her wonderful Nest & Story writing workshop, I feel reinvigorated and inspired – and I’ve decided that I want to use this space for truth telling, story sharing and vulnerability.

“I don’t even want to know someone who isn’t barely hanging on by a thread.” Amy Schumer, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

So let’s get this party started! Here’s the real authentic me as of today: First of all, I’ve totally lost my mojo for cooking. To be honest, my association with the “whole food” movement began to make me feel uncomfortable and preachy. And it probably works both ways since I’ve added frozen veggie meatballs and taco kits into my weekly meal rotation. 

My youngest child had a wicked bout of separation anxiety at back-to-school time that pretty much brought me to my knees. I think I might have cried more than he did and I’m pretty sure it took four years off my life.

My daughter is in full blown puberty which means mood swings from hell, and my oldest son frequently responds to my brilliant pearls of wisdom with the words “the cringe is real.” 

My husband and I mostly sleep separately because the 6-year-old stealthily inserts himself into our bed. And although I love my husband – I think we both secretly like the arrangement. I get to snuggle with my little buddy and he gets to watch Netflix on his phone without me badgering him to turn it off because it’s bad for his eyesight.

I deeply enjoy junky reality tv (Kardashians included). Most days I write in my pyjamas until I have to finally face the public when I pick up my kids from school. We have mice in our kitchen. I’ve turned worrying into an Olympic sport (I’m going for the gold!). My kids fight. My jeans are tight (perhaps because I’m eating Halloween candy by the fistful). My dogs bark a LOT….and the littlest one poops on the floor at least a couple of times every week just to keep me on my toes.

On a more somber note, there have been two shocking deaths in my family that have really shaken the ground beneath my feet. A vibrant adolescent boy was gone in an instant, and a loving and feisty grandmother took her last breath after a painful health struggle. Sometimes the brutal randomness of life makes me want to grab my family and hide in a cave ..you know what I mean?

What about any good stuff you ask? Well, after my worry reached a scary peak, I signed up for a mediation class and I’m learning to breathe and find space between what happens and how I respond. It’s amazing and I’ll talk more about it in another post.

I’ve read some incredible books including Lindy West’s life-changing memoir Shrill and Glennon Doyle-Melton’s raw and brave biography Love Warrior.  I can honestly say that they fundamentally changed the way I look at myself, others and the world. I mean it – read those damn books!!

And I’ve been writing my butt off, actually pulling in a paycheque and contributing to our family finances in a meaningful way for the first time in many years. That feels good.

Phew! There I said it. And I’ll keep on saying it if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me. And I promise no more smug posts or crappy recipes – unless you want me to guide you through the process of thawing and heating some mouth-watering veggie meatballs…..: )

Thanks for your support and I’d love to hear from you. How are things going in your life? Feel free to comment below.

P.S. I am working on rejigging my site so please bear with me as I make some changes.

Keepin’ It Real

I woke up feeling on top of the world. I snuck out the door in the early morning light to squeak in a glorious hot yoga class while my husband and the kids slept peacefully and saved time afterwards to pop by my favorite spot beside the lake to meditate.

I closed my eyes for a blissful 15 minutes and when I opened them I had the most spectacular view of the sun over the icy cold lake that I felt inspired to capture the moment. I took a picture and posted it on social media with the caption “my post-meditation view”.

meditation view

The house was still quiet when I returned home so I hopped in a shower and managed to get myself dressed up in something that was NOT yoga pants and apply some grown-up makeup- more than just my typical  finger-full of goo from a tube of lip balm.

Although I felt a tad guilty, I left my husband to deal with the morning chaos and headed off to Toronto for a full day of voice overs. Traffic was light so I cranked up my favourite tunes, hit the drive-thru for a chai tea and belted out Salt ‘N Pepa songs the whole way to the city (Push it…push it good!)

My sessions couldn’t have gone better. The clients were appreciative and kind, the recordings ran on time and my voice was clear and smooth. A person I’ve worked with for years took the time to offer up some encouraging words and my agent texted right after the session with another awesome booking.  I was feeling like a freakin’ rockstar!

And then I returned home.

The first thing I noticed (aside from the fact that the breakfast dishes were haphazardly piled in the sink) was that the dog had chewed up the garbage in the bathroom and left a nice selection of used maxi pads ground into the bath math. My charming 4-year-old continuously shot me in the butt with his nerf gun while I tried to clean it up AND the entire time I prepared dinner- despite numerous semi-polite requests to “cut it out already!” I picked a fight with my husband about the state of the kitchen and he fired back with something about “being in the moment” with the kids (jerk!). My older two kids bickered non-stop while we choked down a less-than-inspired stir fry and even though I tried at least three times to start a rousing round of “family appreciations” – the only nice thing my son could muster to say about his sister was “well I guess she doesn’t suck too much.” Sigh.

Soon after dinner my husband had to rush off to hockey (double jerk!) and I was left with a sink full of breakfast and dinner dishes, three cantankerous kids and my own festering bitterness. What went wrong?!

If you had looked at my social media from that day – you might have thought the following about me: I’m uber spiritual (I find time to meditate by the lake for heaven’s sake!), my life is in balance (meditation…..by the lake) and I’m calm and contented (did I mention that I meditate by the lake?)

But the reality of my life is much more layered and complicated than social media would lead you to believe. Due to the miracle of technology, I’m able to carefully edit out the crappy bits and only show the world the very best parts of my life. And because we are so darn busy ALL the time – sometimes even the people who are closest to me check in with my Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to find out how I’m doing. And they assume that I’m killing it. But the truth is- sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not.

Most often we present a version of ourselves online that doesn’t match up with reality. We post our successes and accomplishments and moments meditating by the lake and conveniently leave out all of the fights and tears and vulnerable parts of ourselves. And when we look around and think everyone else has it all together, we can feel terribly alone with our own struggles. Ironically, this vehicle for keeping us connected can ultimately leave us feeling discouraged and disconnected.

I’ve been joking that I’m going to start my own site called “Keepin’ it Real” where we can share not only pictures of smiling children festooned with medals and uber positive motivational tidbits but also things that will connect us on a more honest and realistic level. Because that’s what life is like isn’t it?  One day you are sailing along like a boss and other times you want to hide under the covers all day and only pop out for an episode of the Kardashians and a giant glass of wine (or is that just me?).

So let me get the ball rolling with a selection of postings on Lori Wilson’s Keepin’ it Real account:

“Feeling Conflicted” – trying to reconcile my passion for healthy eating and green smoothies with my cravings for potato chips and caramel chocolates. Hoping that smoothie for breakfast cancels out the small bag of Doritos I just snuck from my son’s Halloween bag.

(smily face) Realized my 5-year-old hasn’t said “bitch” for an entire week. Booyah!

(frowny face) Caught myself standing off to the side of my mirror brushing my hair in an attempt to avoid looking at my own face. How did I go from loving the mirror to not being able to look at myself?

“Teetering on the Edge” – husband away for fourth week in a row and I’m sending out a 911 call to all girlfriends within a 10 km radius to proceed to my house asap with prosecco to talk me off the ledge.

(grossed-out face) Anyone else have a dog who won’t stop eating their own poop? Anyone????

So who’s with me? I’m looking for a new generation of social media superstars- some fellow brave souls who are willing to be more vulnerable and real with each other. Let’s break through the facade that we all throw up on the web and get a bit more honest with each other. Because sometimes we are sailing through life belting out 80’s rap tunes at the top of our lungs and sometimes we’re on all fours in the bathroom picking up garbage with a Nerf dart sticking out of our butts. Hey -I’m just keepin’ it real : )

When People Let You Down

About a year ago I received an email from one of my closest friends in the world. She started out by saying she felt she had to reach out because she had deep concerns about our friendship. I won’t go into all of the personal details but basically she shared that despite her best efforts to stay in touch – it really seemed like I wasn’t all that interested in our relationship and she was wondering if our friendship had run its course or if she’d done something to cause a rift between us.

My first reaction was complete shock. Of course I still wanted to be friends and no -she hadn’t done a thing! I frantically searched my memory for our most recent get together or email or phone call and it hit me – she was absolutely right. I had been a totally shitty friend. I quickly realized how brave my friend was for contacting me versus simply writing me off and I took the opportunity to apologize and sheepishly explain myself.

friendship

That email acted as a powerful wake up call for me. You see I generally consider myself to be a pretty darn good friend. Thoughtful and kind and present and practically perfect in every way ; ) But I’m not. And I’m willing to bet that you aren’t either. We mean to stay in touch but we don’t. We plan to go to that special event but we miss it. We want to bring muffins to a new neighbour but we don’t. We intend to make a lunch date or dinner date or pick up the phone but life gets busy and we forget. We want to support someone’s event but it conflicts with something else and we bail. We plan to visit but put it off because we are too tired.

A very wise friend once told me that “we judge ourselves by our intentions but we judge others by their actions”. So you see although I fully intended to stay in touch and make an effort and be thoughtful….I just wasn’t following through. I was skipping along thinking in my own mind that I was a stellar pal and all the while my actions showed otherwise.

Did I rectify the situation with my friend? You bet. Am I still a shitty friend from time to time? Absolutely. But I did learn a few things  from that experience that (I hope) has made me a better friend and has (hopefully) made me more patient and less judgemental with the people in my life:

  • Although it will make you feel extremely vulnerable – if you value a relationship and things have gone off the rails – it’s almost always worth it to reach out and clear the air.
  • You may not particularly want to hear what a friend has to say but you can almost always learn a lesson from the experience (I can certainly vouch for this one).
  • Some people come into our lives only briefly so don’t try to hang on to a relationship that has run its course.
  • If someone drops out of your life and doesn’t want to talk about it then thank them for their time with you and move on. You can’t make someone spend time with you against their will. (another friend recently told me that sometimes the reason people leave your life is so hurtful or painful that they don’t offer an explanation to spare your feelings. Very good point.)
  • Sometimes you will be a crappy friend. Sometimes your friends will be crappy to you. None of us is perfect so be forgiving and patient.
  • If you truly value a relationship – stay in touch, show up and be present.

I think we all have that one friend or relationship where we wonder “what went wrong? was it me?” Relationships can be tricky and if you are anything like me – your feelings can get hurt very easily. That email sent from my friend changed my perspective on this issue quite a bit though. Instead of rushing to hurt or anger or righteous indignation (a personal specialty of mine) – I take a deep breath and remember that I as much as I try to convince myself otherwise – I am far from perfect. Until I line up my intentions and actions with pinpoint accuracy I will continue to look inwards instead of pointing fingers at others.

And that’s all I’ve got time to write for today – I’ve gotta get busy baking some muffins for the neighbours who moved in a year ago ; )