Chart 1: Self-Improvement vs. Time
Anyway so this journey of 2017 has meant a few things have changed. After all, you can’t get a hockey-stick improvement in your self-improvement without actually changing things. And I won’t bore you with the detail of quitting work blah blah blah, but instead I’m going to intensely focus on one particularly lifestyle change and hope that intensely focusing on it, it might amount to some sort of “credit” towards my path to enlightenment. That is meditation.
I’m a sucker for clicking on all of those articles such as “The Main Secret to Success” and “7 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do” where without fail, the famous business person, political leader, entrepreneur, basically someone I look up to, will talk about how meditation and mindfulness is part of their regular routine. Meditation. Mindfulness. It just keeps cropping up everywhere. Steve Jobs did it. Oprah does it. Ariana Huffington swears by it so much she wrote a book/movement about it. Oh and I guess the Dalai Lama does it [he’s kinda the OG when it comes to this latest trend of meditation]. So I figured I might as well try it. I might as well give this whole meditation/mindfulness/zen/positivity/being ‘at peace’ thing a crack [I mean what’s the worst that could happen? I join a silence commune and my family and friends are no longer subject to my incessant rantings?].
First up I thought I’d give meditation a go. For me, when I think of meditation, I think of a yogi, sitting under a tree, possibly levitating….[and let’s just admit that my view is clearly a racial stereotype, and that this yogi is also for some reason using an oboe to woo a cobra snake…actually I think my racial stereotypes are actually just a scene from ‘Aladdin’]. Anyway what I did learn is that meditation is an inner focus that’s meant to be transcendental….what does ‘transcendental’ mean? I have no idea. But for starters, it does involve closing your eyes. I also thought ‘meditation time’ meant that time at the end of yoga class when you get to sleep [and in my case, try not to snore]. But this is not so. Meditation instead, required me to focus and do things like ‘empty my mind’.
So there I was, lying on the floor with my eyes closed….except when I closed my eyes, all I saw was red. Then I started to think whether this red colour was actually the flames of Hell that I was seeing and that I, Arani, had on my first attempt of meditation had transcended to another life. This of course was false. Turns out meditation is a lot more than just closing your eyes and chanting ‘OM’ [which by the way is hilarious when you’re a brown girl of Sri Lankan descent, sitting in a Paddington yoga class listening to a certain demographic (*erghm read: privileged white people), chanting ‘OM’ like are the Cookie Monster – you know how he goes “om, om, om” as he crushes those choc chip cookies into his mouth….ah c’mon it’s so rare the brown girl gets to have an air of superiority, give me this one?].
Next up I tried understanding what ‘mindfulness’ meant. And to be honest, until I started this process, I had always found the word ‘mindfulness’ to be particularly fucking annoying. I feel like in the last 5 years, it’s suddenly cool to speak in a deep voice and over articulate vowels and say things like ‘in my mindfulness journey’ whilst wearing $400 designer leggings, a crop top and one of those USELESS tank tops with abnormally large arm-holes, so we can all see how amazingly toned you are – it just makes me want to punch you in your kidneys….anyway needless to say, I was starting to feel that my ‘mindfulness journey’ was not going to be straight forward and I was never going to get what any of this meant.
But this is where you actually go “who the fuck cares” and you actually start to get it. Meditation is about focus and self-awareness, and‘mindfulness is all about being present. There is no precise way to actually do this and really just being able to detach yourself from needing to complete tasks to achieve results, even for a moment, allows you to feel some sort of contentment. You don’t need to be a yogi who’s able to close their eyes and BOOM! instantly be self-aware. Fuck, I’m not even meant to be able to do a few minutes of that – at least without practice. Just even a few seconds where you realise everything is bigger than you, is what it takes.
My interpretation of all this was that I should focus on being more positive and appreciative of the things happening right in front of me. But again, taking my own spin on things, [and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m disgustingly goal oriented], I set myself the goal of ‘feeling positive’ at least 3 times a week. Now anyone who reads that sentence and thinks to themselves ‘what a loser’, please feel free to send me your name and address so I can add you to this list of people that, once I transcend universes through my mad meditative skillz, I’ll use my power to do things such as constantly make you miss green lights when driving, or always be caught in heavy rain without an umbrella, or always seem to forget an important toiletry when travelling. Karma’s a bitch.
Now I would love to end this piece stating that I’m now this amazingly calm, zen, yogi, who let’s nothing bother me or get in my way. But that would be false. I’m still that person who, when told to get into the ‘womb pose’ in aerial yoga [lol don’t even get me started], I’m the only one who’s stretchy hammock “womb” is bobbing up and down as I can’t stop giggling.
Example 1: ‘Womb’ pose in an aerial yoga class….c’mon as if you wouldn’t start laughing
Whilst I might have hockey-stick expectations for my overall self-improvement, this whole ‘being present’ and ‘being focused’ thing isn’t that easy. But starting out has definitely helped me. Maybe it’s just the idea of investing in only yourself, but meditation and [my most hated word] mindfulness, are helpful and worth exploring.