Living the present - an introduction to meditation
Here in Madrid, it’s day 31 of lockdown. In other words, I hadn’t been out of the house for 31 days, until this morning as I had to go to a medical appointment. Going outside was really strange. No one on the street, no one at the doctor’s surgery, hardly any traffic. On the way back (the surgery is just 3 mins away, literally across the street from where we live) it was drizzling, but even so the urge to go past my house and on to the nearest park was tremendous. I hadn’t realised quite how much I was missing the outdoors until I left the house this morning. When I was back indoors, I threw a wobbly, as my friend Heather would say. Just a few moments of feeling at a loss and super sad, but luckily it was time to wake mum up and prepare her breakfast, so I had no time to wallow in my gloom :-)
Every time I turn on the television, or have a conversation with friends on the phone or via Skype, the subject of the economy and the bleak times ahead comes up almost invariably. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t care about the future of the country I live in, or the future of the world for that matter, but part of me keeps asking, what’s the point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, when we don’t even know whether we’ll be alive and well tomorrow? We don’t know whether our friends and family will all still be with us. I don’t wish to come across as all doom and gloom, those of you who know me well know that I tend to look on the bright side of life, just like Brian (sorry, couldn’t help mentioning one of my favourite films, The Life of Brian, as it always brings a smile to my face)… I’m just being realistic, and like a good yogini, concentrating on the here and now. We need to concentrate on the PRESENT. There is nothing we can do about the past and the future is uncertain, to put it mildly. The only thing that counts is the present. We need to take care of our bodies, take care of our minds and take care of our loved ones, if we can do that without breaking the social distancing rules. And remember that even if you can’t be there physically for someone, there’s video calls, Skype, Zoom, normal phone calls, text messages, WhatsApp, etc. Sometimes it’s enough to just ring someone and tell them you care, sometimes hearing the dulcet tones of the one you love is enough to brighten your day. But remember, if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after others. It’s just like the airplane oxygen mask announcement: “Passengers travelling with children, please fit your own mask first”. And that’s not selfishness in my opinion, it’s self-preservation.
I find that physical exercise, in any form, is a great way of letting off steam and destressing, but at times like this it’s just not enough. My mind needs a break too, and the only way I can get that is through meditation. I am by no means a meditation guru, I still struggle with it on a daily basis, and probably will for years to come, but that’s no reason for not trying. I’ve often heard “I’m not patient enough for meditation” or “I just find meditation impossible, my mind wanders too much”, but that’s precisely why you need to keep at it. If meditation were a breeze, you probably wouldn’t need it (same argument goes for when people say, I’m not flexible enough for yoga… that’s why you need yoga!). Having said that, I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to start meditating (and to continue meditating once you’ve started), so I’ve posted a very short introduction to meditation to help you along the way. I would suggest trying to set a specific time each day.
I recorded my introduction to meditation as an audio file, but Wix won't let me upload it (or at least, I haven't worked out how to upload it), so here is the link to SoundCloud. As far as I know you don't have to register with SoundCloud to hear the track, but please let me know if you have any difficulties :-)