EIGHT DAYS TO BLISS: A Med­i­ta­tor’s Jour­ney

ELLE (Canada) - - Career -

Writer Guy Saddy, an in­vet­er­ate skep­tic, en­rolled in zi­vaMIND, an eight-day on­line med­i­ta­tion course of­fered by Ziva Med­i­ta­tion. Here’s what he found:

Day One Af­ter lis­ten­ing to a 40minute in­tro­duc­tory talk by Emily Fletcher of zi­vaMIND, I try the first of eight lessons. I’m a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive, with good rea­son. “You may not like me very much,” Fletcher warned me ear­lier. Later, over the phone, she ex­plained why: The process of med­i­tat­ing rids the body of stress, which can stir up long-buried emo­tions. Hmm. I choose one of the three mantras of­fered, and I begin my first fiveminute med­i­ta­tion. It is, in­deed, a sim­ple process. Sit qui­etly, eyes closed, and fo­cus on the mantra. “Don’t try to be a per­fect med­i­ta­tor,” says Fletcher, but that’s not easy for a con­gen­i­tal per­fec­tion­ist. I in­cor­rectly try to push away my rac­ing thoughts through sheer force of will. “We don’t want to use the mantra as a base­ball bat to knock the thoughts away,” she says. Ac­tu­ally, I was hop­ing for more of an ele­phant-gun ef­fect. Day Two Good news! “Thoughts are not the en­emy.” Ap­par­ently, I’m not the only one whose brain houses the “drunken monkey”—a term that ac­cu­rately de­scribes the way stray thoughts jump from topic to topic, like some ad­dled simian crash­ing from branch to branch. To me, this is dis­tress­ing (not “de-stress­ing”), but Fletcher as­sures me that drift­ing thoughts that take me away from my mantra are nor­mal; so are thoughts that oc­cur si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Af­ter med­i­tat­ing, I no­tice that I feel ex­hausted. Later, I Google my symptoms. Some peo­ple ex­cuse it away; oth­ers state un­equiv­o­cally that med­i­ta­tion is al­ways an in­vig­o­rat­ing process. Trans­la­tion: I am a ter­ri­ble med­i­ta­tor. Day Three Ex­cel­lent news! I am not a fail­ure. Ap­par­ently. “Here’s a ques­tion for you: Are you feel­ing a bit more en­er­gized or are you feel­ing a bit more tired?” Fletcher asks pre­sciently. “Ei­ther way is fine.” Phew. It’s like she read my drunken-monkey mind. Days Four through Seven Dur­ing this next phase, we tran­si­tion to 15-minute twice-daily med­i­ta­tions. I’m hav­ing trou­ble fit­ting in the sec­ond ses­sion, but since con­sis­tency is key to reap­ing the real benefits, I de­cide to com­mit more thor­oughly. My lethargy is gone; in its place, how­ever, is a sort of ner­vous­ness cen­tred in my stom­ach area. And this: A few times while med­i­tat­ing, I en­tered an odd state, very sim­i­lar to how you feel when you’re driv­ing on a high­way at night and you al­most fall asleep at the wheel. On two oc­ca­sions, I “jerked” my­self back to the present. Day Eight… and be­yond Af­ter a few weeks, my ner­vous­ness dis­ap­peared; this, how­ever, may be due to the fact that I am no longer ob­sess­ing over be­ing a per­fect med­i­ta­tor—an im­pos­si­ble, and fruit­less, pur­suit. (“We don’t med­i­tate to get good at med­i­ta­tion,” says Fletcher. “We medi­tate to get good at life.”) But has med­i­ta­tion helped? It could be a placebo-type ef­fect, but I do feel calmer and more in con­trol. It’s as if I were a com­puter with a some what­buggy op­er­at­ing sys­tem that has sud­denly been up­graded to a smoother, less-flaky it­er­a­tion. I feel more “solid,” for lack of a bet­ter word. n

the ver­dict

I’m go­ing to keep at it. Who knows? Even­tu­ally, I may even get good at life.

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