Yesterday I held a repeat “Introduction to Meditation” workshop at Riverside Studio, and I was struck once again by how, even though everyone is so completely different, our reasons for wanting to start, or grow, a meditation practice are so similar.
“I want to find a ‘happy place’ that I can go to when I am feeling stressed out”
“Life is so rushed and can be so hard, and I need to find a way to slow down”
“I have a very close family and sometimes it’s hard to know what is my voice and what is their collective voice – I want to try and hear myself speak, or think, and find my own voice”
“There are so many demands on me as a working mother, I find it impossible to find time to look after myself”
“I often react so quickly and in the heat of the moment often say or do things that I regret – I need to find a way to be more mindful about my actions and reactions”
“I am struggling to sleep at night”
These, and so many more, are the kind of things that people cite when they sign up for the workshops. I try to make it as user-friendly and accessible as possible, because what I’m realising more and more, is that people are less interested in the potential of a meditation practice to deepen their spirituality or to help them figure out the meaning of our very existence, but desperate for a way to help them cope with the here and now of their busy lives, to find a way to slow down, to reduce stress, to find a way of relaxing and of switching off their overactive minds.
So my short workshops have changed slightly to move a fraction away from all the spiritual reasons we meditate, and to really focus more on empowering people in the short term to just begin – to just start along that potentially transformational journey of meditation – to start the very day after the workshop, for 20 minutes a day, for 21 days, and to see how it goes for them. For many people, this is all that is needed to get a taste for the potential power of this ancient practice, and for them to start feeling the benefits (more self aware, less self-critical, reporting feeling slightly less stressed, sometimes sleeping better or feeling like they can breathe better). And THEN – perhaps weeks, months or years after that, there is the potential to start tapping into the spiritual benefits of the practice. It’s like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – you can’t start trying to self-actualise if you are so stressed out you can’t even breathe! So we start with the basics, and grow it from there.
Here is a lovely message I received this morning from one of the yesterday’s attendees:
“You will be very proud of me: I had a lovely meditation this morning and am for the first time ready to do this and will keep doing it for 21 days and look forward to many more from there”.
What a champ!
Next post will be about why we avoid, don’t start, or don’t continue with a meditation practice.