Are you paying attention?
A year ago, I committed myself to beginning a meditation practice. It’s not as scary as you might think, but it definitely is frustrating (and calming?).
“They” tell you to sit for just a few minutes of quiet attention to your breath. So- that’s where I’ve started. Sometimes I sit for that practice and I feel like I get nowhere. Then I resent the fact that might be the entire point of the practice. And I wanna say, fuck it. Because I never really feel like I am “improving.” But…I bet that is because I am hard on myself. I bet that if I were to really look back over this last year, where my intention (sankalpa) became to Take A Step Back- I would notice that things have changed for me.
For example, we are broke. And when I say that- I need to note that our basic needs are taken care of and I am thankful for that- but we have to sit down pretty much every paycheck and discuss every expenditure, figure out where it’s coming from, and how to save for emergencies AND pay down debt. I don’t own a house and there is no room in my budget for vacations or even dinners out. Having a baby (at 29 when literally everyone I know is having babies) is not even in the cards for discussion at this point. I don’t know if this is everyone else’s situation- but I certainly feel alone a lot of the time working for a non-profit where pay increases are a rare bonus, matching 401k’s are not existent, and the hours are long.
So, all that to say- I’ve seen not one but two totaled cars this year. Neither were my fault, but- being budget-conscious, we carry liability insurance only. This means that they never pay you what your car is worth…to you. After my first car was totaled and prior to a meditation practice, I would suffice to say that I was a basket case. I fought with my husband…a lot. I cried at work…a lot. To the point that my boss pulled me into her office one day and told me that I needed to take some personal time. It was pretty humiliating. We made it through (as you usually do with life’s little/medium/big hiccups) and got a new car. Then, it too, got totaled. Talk about working through some non-attachment (vairagya). It was not our fault again, but here I am in the same place I was one year ago. And ALLLLLL the same feelings kept rising up for me…
Worry. Attachment. Anger. Worry. Frustration. Angst. Worry. Fear. Worry. Worry.
Worry. Worry. Worry.
This is my pattern, my “MO.” I worry uncontrollably and I fear the “what-ifs” and “the worsts.” Regardless of the situation, these are my baseline feelings. Then, I usually explode on my husband- who isn’t deserving of any of the blame, or I cry at work which has always been really embarrassing.
However, this time around, being in this same.exact.place just one.year.later has been a little different. I have cried, but only a little. Throughout this year, I’ve made a conscious effort to put my butt on the ground somewhere, preferably outside, and I take 5-15 minutes to focus on my breath. And that’s it. That’s my “meditation” practice. It’s nothing fancy and I get distracted after like, 30 seconds. I never feel like I am getting any “better” at it. But aside from all the neuroscience that proves it’s a great thing to do, here’s what I do notice:
I’m calmer once I’m done
I haven’t had one, single, inappropriate burst of tears at work
When I’m angry (like when my husband doesn’t do the dishes), SOMETIMES I can Take A Step Back and realize a.)It’s not a big deal, or b.)It is a big deal and this is why but I can tell you eloquently instead of throwing a fit like a child
And mostly, I’ve been able to handle this big, crappy, annoying car situation without feeling like my world is going to collapse in on me. That’s a big feeling not to feel. And I think it’s an inkling of freedom.
I don’t write this to ride on a high horse about how enlightened I am. There are a lot of days I think my meditation practice sucks and the only thing bringing me back to it is that I have strategically chosen during the workday as a time that works for me (it gets me out of the office and back to nature for 15 minutes). I write this for a few reasons: 1. Shit is real out there folks, life is hard, and we need to do a better job of being honest with each other, 2. Meditation might be worth the peace of mind it promises, and 3. If you work really hard on perfecting a pose (or poses)…you should be working just as hard to bring out your most perfect Self.
I once read (and I don’t remember where- so I can’t give credit) that meditation is not something you “do,” it’s something that “happens” when you have created the proper conditions in your mind/body.
Here are some beginner’s tips:
1. Find a comfy spot that you like.
2. Get comfy, but erect spine (whether supine or seated) is the aim
3. Start to breathe. And just say, “Inhale.” “Exhale.”
4. Just pay attention to that. Start for 2 minutes. Work your way up to 5, then 7, then 10.
5. Whenever you realize you are distracted (congratulations….that is your first step!), just come back to your repetition (and action) of Inhale, Exhale.
Do it first for a week. Then try 2 weeks. Then…just keep going.
Once I realize deeper stuff through my continued journey (yep, that’s me committing to you that I’m gonna keep going)…I’ll be sure to share with you! I’m also happy to take tips on how your “paying attention practice” works for you!! I encourage to make this just as important as your asana practice. We can do it together.
Megan Escalona is “almost” native to Atlanta and has been practicing yoga for almost 10 years. She’s not your typical “flexible” yogini and promises to ensure that some form of each pose can be accessible and comfortable to each student. The foundation of her personal practice is pranayama (breath work) which she integrates into her classes. Megan hopes to help her students reach their physical goals through their asana practice, but also believes the spiritual practices and philosophy can deepen your quality of life and therefore aims to bring in these elements to her classes as well. She is a lifelong learner, speaks fluent Spanish and lives with her husband Eduardo and Lola, her German Shepard mutt. She loves cooking, eating, craft beer, music, and sunshine. You can check out her Facebook page at for Vida Yoga or go see her on Thursday and Friday evenings at Vita-Prana Yoga in Smyrna.
Interested in writing for My Yoga Scene? Reach out!