EIGHT DAYS TO BLISS: A Meditator’s Journey
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
I’m going to keep at it. Who knows? Eventually, I may even get good at life.