About 3 years ago, when I started to get interested in meditation, my motivation was not so much to become a better person, but I liked the idea of a more conscious lifestyle. A life of namasté, cross-legged sitting, and mindfulness - that sounded kind of cool, if not sexy. With recent yoga classes, I got my first taste of the feeling that the conscious moment brings, and already I wanted more.
So at home I sat down on the floor, closed my eyes and put my hands on my lap. Deep in through the nose, deep out through the mouth. Here I sat, almost like a guru embodying tranquillity itself.
Already the first thoughts came up: "I must not forget to take the garbage out later... Crap, I should call grandma today... When is my hair appointment again?". I admonished myself and tried to concentrate on my breathing again. My ear was itching, my foot had also fallen asleep and my eyes were barely able to stay closed. I lost the desire to meditate. I opened my eyes, looked at my phone - I actually managed to sit still for a whole 3 minutes.
So often we have a wishful thinking about how our life could look like. We are curious about what is possible and through social media we are confronted with different lifestyles every day, so we get the feeling that we can reach into the candy box of personality development every week. We dream big, try a lot of new things and reinvent ourselves. But one thing we sometimes lack in the process is perseverance. The first few days of a morning meditation, a workout, or no sugar are exciting, but often we don't make it past day 4 or 5. It no longer gives us satisfaction, instead it becomes a burden and we fall into old patterns faster than we thought. That's just the way it is with habits.
I also let it go for the time being after my miserable attempt to meditate. It took many attempts to find out what was really preventing me from meditating every day - I was missing the WHY.
So I started to research, learned about the many positive effects meditation can have on body, mind and soul and immersed myself in a centuries-old practice that is still practiced today, especially by spiritual people. I was particularly taken with Buddhism and the approach of using daily meditation as a chance to become a better person for oneself, but also for others.
The Dalai Lama starts every morning at 4 o'clock with a meditation of several hours. Before sunrise he sits in silence and gives his full devotion to his inner world.
Does that mean we should all now sit cross-legged on our floor at 4 a.m. and ponder the meaning of life before our first coffee? No.
Which brings me to the essence of my journey.
I was convinced that there was a right way to meditate. But after several attempts and failures, I understood what meditation means to me. Meditation is a promise. A promise to give my life the attention it deserves. A promise to treat myself and everyone around me with love and compassion. A promise to listen to what my innermost being has to tell me.
I still don't get up at 4am and meditate for several hours. I still don't even manage to meditate every day. But now I know why I meditate and this knowledge is worth much more than all the morning routines in the world. Every morning (if I manage to resist snoozing) I look forward to sitting down on my meditation cushion with my steaming cup of tea and focusing on my breath for a few minutes. For me, it has a powerful yet calming effect that carries me through the rest of the day and that knowledge drives me to stick with this practice even when I'm tired or just don't feel like it.
As you can see, the how means much less that it is about the right way of meditation, but much more about your way of meditation. Intention is the key and I invite you to take a few minutes to become aware of why you want to meditate. Maybe you are going through a stressful time at work and need some clarity to cope with another new day, or you are preoccupied with fears about the future and need a way to identify your innermost desires - whatever it is, become aware of the WHY and use regular meditation as a tool for a happier life.