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.

One Step Forward

This winter has been kicking my butt! Well I guess more accurately it’s been kicking my children’s butts. The kids seem to be catching every darn bug going this year and we are just getting over round 2 of the stomach flu. Yuck!

sick kid

Those of you who are closest to me are well aware that nothing sets off my irrational worry like having a sick child. When one of my kids goes down with any kind of a virus or infection, my brain immediately starts spinning with the most morbid possibilities. Yes I know intellectually that worrying myself into a frenzy when my little guy barfs all over the floor is ridiculous when there are families dealing with seriously ill children- but my worry can be like a runaway train I sometimes can’t get control over.

After an especially anxiety-ridden holiday season (kids sick = mom worried sick), I decided this is the year that I am going to tackle my fears head on before they morph into something bigger and harder to manage. My first stop was with a friend who is also an Intuitive Counsellor. As I plunked myself down in front of her, I jokingly asked: “Ok so tell me the truth – was I a mom in a past life with 20 kids who all died of the plague?!” She had a good chuckle and then turned to me and said “You know what – you’re not far off.” Dammit- I knew it! ; )

Whether or not you believe in past lives, my session was focused way more on this lifetime and strategies that I can use to relax and be more peaceful and helpful when my children aren’t feeling well. Aside from giving me some practical visualization and breathing exercises to keep myself grounded, she also suggested that once I have sufficiently calmed myself down, I simply focus on one thing that I can do to improve the current situation.

Just breathe, get calm and ask myself “What ONE small step forward can I take in this present moment?”

I thought this was genius advice because I am famous for trying to micro-manage my family’s health. When someone is sick – my mind starts racing with a million things that I should have done or could do better or should  be doing right now. Frankly it’s exhausting!

one step forward 2

So how did I this use strategy as we wrap up our latest family puke-a-palooza? Well, I caught myself whenever I was on the brink of a freak-out and I remembered to breathe and clear my mind. And each and every time, I simply took one step forward:

– I sprayed all of our door handles with non-toxic disinfectant (I cannot live without my Benefect)

– I apologized to my daughter for acting like a crazy person and explained that I had been overcome with worry and I was working on controlling my irrational fears (this was also a great opportunity to teach her that parents make lots of mistakes and why it’s important to own up to them, learn from them and move forward)

– I opened up to a good friend and let her talk me into getting out of the house for a fun night of socializing (and perhaps a few glasses of vino)

– I washed everyone’s bedding and threw open the windows for 20 minutes (heck yes- right in the middle of a freakin’ polar vortex!)

– I quietly sat and visualized each of my children being happy and radiating vibrant health

– I stocked up on Vitamin D drops and extra Vitamin C

And I felt better. Yes I still worried but by the time my oldest son went down for the count – I was actually quite calm about the whole thing. I’m not suggesting that I’ve got this thing beat but I am slowly inching my way forward towards being calmer and less reactive when illness strikes my household.

I’m certainly a work in progress but I do know that simply stopping, taking a deep breath and deciding on one positive and helpful action has already made a big difference in how I’m feeling. Now- my next step forward is convincing my husband to take us all away on a warm sunny beach vacation! Wish me luck!