Meditation… Almost everyone is talking about it nowadays no matter where you look – bloggers, YouTubers, social media influencers – meditation, meditation, meditation. Even people outside the “self-growth” realm mention that more often than ever.
But what even is that? What does it mean “to meditate”? Is it sitting with your eyes closed for X minutes, slowly breathing and not thinking?
Today I want to share my experience with meditation (and spoiler alert: I just recently realized that I’ve probably been doing it wrong for a long time!)
My experience with meditation (up until my realization)
I probably have heard the word “meditation” a long time ago, but it started to interest me when I started to get curious about self-growth in my early/mid twenties. Meditation seemed intriguing as there are so many promises out there of what it can bring to you once you meditate (not saying it can’t btw).
Like many of us who are new to meditation, sitting still even for 10 minutes without thinking seemed like a challenge to me. I tried it here and then, but I never really had that “aha” moment.
I just could not stop thinking. Some days it worked, but for most days I didn’t feel any difference at all (if anything, I got easily annoyed with myself for not being able to “stop thinking”). Keep in mind this phrase “stop thinking” as it will be relevant later in this post.
As the time went by and I learned new things I discovered that meditation can actually mean so many things! It’s like an umbrella term for a gazillion techniques that you can practice. From sitting still to moving meditations or doing very deep breathing meditations.
And all of it can be classified as “meditation”.
I had tried many different types of guided and improvised meditations, but it never seemed to really click for me.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that even though I never doubted the effectiveness and benefits of meditation, I just thought that it’s not the best tool for me. At least not in its most popular way which I always thought means “not thinking”.
Deep breathing meditations is another story, but we will talk about it in another post.
So what changed?
Fast forward to the year 2023. I had an online call with one of my mentors (it was a group call) and in one of our calls the topic about “meditation” came up.
And a phrase that really made me think was “behind your thoughts” not “without thoughts”.
During the call I didn’t think too much of it, but later that evening it came back to me. What does it mean “behind your thoughts”? Does it mean that you still have your thoughts but somehow you are “behind” them?
Up until this point I always thought that a “good” meditation is a meditation where you don’t have any thoughts (which was rare for me) or where you think positive thoughts and start feeling positive emotions.
And then it all started to finally click. It’s normal that thoughts and feelings are coming. The key is to simply observe it all WITHOUT getting attached to any of it.
Letting all the inner impulses like thoughts, feelings and outer impulses like sounds, smells, vision etc just pass you by. Wash over you, if you like.
And all I do is just observe it all.
I was very excited and intrigued with this epiphany of mine, so I wanted to try it out ASAP in an actual meditation, so the next morning I sat down and tried it out.
I started the meditation and focused on getting behind my thoughts. I saw it as I’m standing in the river and every single impulse (inner or outer) just floated past me.
Some impulses grab me and drag me for a bit like a strong current, but then I just notice that, stop and keep observing everything.
For me that’s the moment behind thoughts, emotions and other impulses. In that moment it feels like I have everything and nothing at the same time. I just am. No good, no bad – no judgment. Just being.
Just to make it clear, these clear “just being” moments come and go as inner and outer impulses activate my mind or body. By no means I can be in this state for a long period of time (even 5 or 10 minutes without any impulses interrupting me would be a good achievement).
But it feels that I finally have met that part of me “who just is” behind my mind and body. And I am deeply grateful for that.
So, who/what is this observer?
That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m definitely not my body. I have a body, but I’m something more than just a body.
I’m also not my mind. I have a mind and it tends to go on autopilot, but I’m also not my mind.
That means there must be another part of me who is neither my mind nor my body. So what is it? I think it’s awareness or maybe soul. I’m not entirely sure if there even is a difference between the two.
I know that for many of you this might seem obvious, but for me it really was a huge break-through. You know that moment when you think that you know something, but then you realize you’ve been completely wrong about it all the time? This was my moment.
And it’s a very fundamental feeling that you actually feel that (not just know or think) that you can connect with something so profound and ever present.
So what’s my main takeaway from this experience? Well, apparently you can meditate for years using your mind without even being aware of that. And even though the mind is a very useful asset, there are things that are beyond its grasp.
Since this breakthrough I’ve been practicing meditation way more often as it’s such a rewarding experience to “meet” my awareness and let everything just float past me and observe everything “from the side”.
I guess now I understand what it means to “be in the present moment”. For me it’s that place behind thoughts, feelings and everything else. Just being.
What is your experience with meditation? When you meditate do you do that with your mind or awareness?