This is a re-post from a blog I wrote last year. I knew not many readers could find it so I didn't post the second half. I will post the next part next week.
Why I thought I couldn't meditate
For nearly 10 years, before I became a massage therapist, I worked in retail. If you have never worked retail you might think it's easy to just hang out at the mall all day. But retail jobs, in addition to soul draining, are quite demanding. They require you to stand for extended periods of time, climb ladders, carry heavy things, (usually while wearing uncomfortable attire) multi-task, get an exorbitant amount of repetitive work done in a short period of time, to hold the same conversation numerous times a day and pretend it's new each time all while smiling and trying to make sure no one steals. Before my retail career was done, I became a store manager, which meant in addition to those general requirements, I had to be accountable for what happened in the store 72 hours a week. I managed up to 6 employees At a time, memorized a bunch of otherwise useless information, and had to worry about things like inventory, surprise visits and audits. My brain was half filled with meaningless stressful stimulation and the other half was nearly dead from lack of use. So it's no wonder that when I first tried to sit in stillness and meditate I found it a complete waste of time.
I couldn't sit still.
I couldn't zone out.
I felt uncomfortable.
I started to fall asleep once I did get comfortable.
Eventually, I got frustrated with myself and gave up.
After massage school I was a much calmer person. When you study massage, you receive a lot of massage as part of the learning process. Just walking into my massage college had a calming effect. Even on exam days, instead of feeling stressed, I was excited! I graduated with a strong determination for finding a job. once I was working and had a little income, I went on a journey to learn about meditation. I knew it was a tool I would need in order to build a thriving massage practice one day.
My journey began at the book store. I bought about 7 books about meditation and read about other people's exploration of it. One lady wrote about going to live with monks and spending hours with them in meditation. Another book focused on a place they called "the gap" which was explained as the space between thoughts, and gave helpful tips on how to get there. So again, I found a fairly quiet place, I sat perched cross-legged on a pillow and attempted to clear my mind of all thoughts. This time I stuck with it, trying different methods I researched. I refused to give up on myself again. Eventually, after several tries I found myself in a trance-like state. I was swaying gently and watching swirls of color wrap themselves around the inside of my eyelids. I wasn't aware of anything else except the subtle swaying and the colors. This moment lasted about 2 minutes before something happened to pull me out of it.
A little later that day I was riding in the car with a friend when this extreme sensory overload came over me. The radio was way too loud, the car was moving way too fast, the sun outside the window was shining directly into my soul and I wanted to crawl out of my skin!! I started to have a panic attack. I was so scared because I had no idea what was wrong with me. I couldn't figure out how to get away from this feeling! It had been a few hours since I had meditated so I didn't connect the two events until it happened again later that week.
A few minutes after meditating, I was walking my dog when the leash started to hurt my hand, the sun hurt my eyes, the sidewalk felt like a waterbed under my feet and the overwhelming smell of citrus blossoms from the neighbor's tree nearly made me gag. I stopped and tried to wait for it to pass but it continued. My senses were under attack from all sides and there was no escape. The only thing I could do was go inside, lie down and cover my eyes and wait for it to pass. I couldn't explain what was wrong with me, and was a little embarrassed so I told everyone I had a migraine. After that, I decided meditation was not for me.
I had connected the strange spells to meditation and I had no interest in recreating them.
Nearly 3 years after I gave up on meditation, I met a lady I would soon look to as a mentor. She believes that meditation can improve anyone's life. and that they should practice it twice a day, every day. I told her about my experience and she suggested that maybe the way I was transitioning from meditation to everyday life was too abrupt. She convinced me to give it another try and I'm glad I did.
I would love to share what I learned with you. Check back for my next post where I tell you more about my experiences with my meditation practice.