Calm inside – my „wrong“ meditation practice

If you’re in a room with me for more than a few minutes, you will realize pretty quickly … I’m not a calm person.
For much of my life, I’ve tried to change that. I attempted to change who I am or at least how I appear. To no avail. Even if/when I tried to appear calm on the outside – and for simplicity’s sake let’s assume that it worked (which of course it usually didn’t) – on the inside it was a whole different story.

The fact is, I’m simply not a calm person.

Just like I don’t have black hair or blue eyes. That’s it.

wrong meditation practice calm inside

Mixed media art “Loved & enough” – available in my etsy-shop

By now I’m trying to accept and embrace it. I mean after all, what would happen if all people on this earth would be calm by nature?! It sure would be boring as hell.
Also, think about the effect it has to constantly try to be someone, who you’re simply not. Let’s just say, it’s frustrating, at least.
(That is a big understatement, of course.) And by now I’m feeling like – I’m too old for this shit. I am who I am.

Of course, it’s not always this easy. As a bubbly energetic person, you don’t only get nice feedback. (I guess for a super-calm person it’s similar. I wonder why it is, that people can’t be accepted as who they are?) So embracing myself, it’s not something that I just decided and did. It’s a way I started walking on … and I’m still working on it …

wrong meditation practice calm inside

Mixed media art “Loved & enough” – available in my etsy-shop

The thing with being „not calm“ – for lack of a better word – is, that it’s not only the outside that might be hard to handle for some. But my inside also isn’t „calm“. And I have to deal with that, whether I like it or not. I can’t just walk away from myself and from my thoughts. Believe me, I have tried.

All my life my thoughts have always been bubbling …

My head is always spinning. My mind never shuts up …
I thought that’s normal. That’s how everyone lives. I’m just now starting to realize, that not everyone experiences life this way.

The way my brain works makes it easy for me to have ideas. It has always been something that I’m good at. I can come up with new ideas in no time. Often, ideas just pop into my head throughout the day, without me even trying. I could fill notebooks with them. Actually, I HAVE filled notebooks with them. I love how my brain works like that. It’s amazing.

But of course, it also has downsides. For years I thought it was completely normal to go to bed and lay awake for a few hours before finally falling asleep. I have done that since I can remember. As a child, a teen, during my university studies, during my first years of being employed … Sleep was always a big struggle for me. I only realized that my experience actually isn’t normal at all, when I somehow ended up with a leaflet about sleep disorders in my hand by chance in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I still remember the moment that I read through it and realized. It was a bit of a shock.

wrong meditation practice calm inside

Mixed media art “I am enough” – available in my etsy-shop

Another downside, I have never been good at taking breaks.

I don’t know how to “do nothing”.

Just sitting down and enjoying time … I literally have no idea how to do it. I always did something. For most of my life, I actually did several things at once, like knitting while watching a movie, painting while listening to audiobooks, and doing housework while learning something new with a podcast … I was always striving for „efficiency“, not realizing that the fact that I actually couldn’t do „nothing“ was a bit odd.
The thing is, I actually got along like that fine for quite some time. Especially during university studies, I felt I was thriving. I could work the way I wanted to and I managed quite well, I thought.

It kinda started falling apart when I had kids. (Not wanting to blame my kids at all – I love them and they are the best thing that ever happened to me!) Suddenly there were demands that I could not schedule the way that they fit in for me. And especially sleep got so much worse. That’s when I came across meditation. Again.

wrong meditation practice calm inside

Mixed media art “I am enough” – available in my etsy-shop

I actually had come across meditation before, but the idea of „thinking about nothing“ … just sounded nuts to me. How on earth should I do that? I do remember trying it a few times – failing of course. The whole concept was completely insane to me and I could not imagine how any human being could think of nothing for more than a second!
So I decided that meditation clearly was not for me. It was just too frustrating and I felt even more like a failure than before trying it!

When I had kids and the sleeping problems had increased even more I somehow found an audio meditation for moms. I was so desperate, that I tried it.

It was a guided meditation, that was just 3 minutes long.

A lovely voice talked me through it. And I was shocked to feel how it worked. I could literally feel my body relax! Do you know that odd feeling when your intestines somehow relax for the first time that day and you hadn’t even realized that you’re completely tense all the time?
I actually did relax while listening to it! I could feel my body reacting to it! It was amazing!

After that, I listened to this one meditation every day for weeks and it helped me to relax. Then I tried other guided meditations … and they worked, too. Some were better than others. But I realized, that even though I could not meditate by myself – when I had a voice to listen to and focus on, it did help me to relax immensely.

I started to listen to guided meditations every evening before going to sleep. And after a while for the first time in my life, I actually had a „normal“ sleep. I would go to bed, listen to the meditation, and fall asleep listening to it and – a totally crazy thing – would sleep through much better than before! Before I used to wake up so many times at night, even though there was no apparent reason for it.

I can say, that meditation completely changed my life!

wrong meditation practice calm inside

Mixed media art “I am loved” – available in my etsy-shop

To this day I have this ritual of listening to a meditation before sleeping. Sometimes, I fall off this habit and stop doing it … The thing that I have noticed though is, that even if I can fall asleep easily without the meditation, I still usually sleep much better through the night if I listen to it, compared to if I don’t. So, eventually, I always get back to the habit again when I realize I’m not sleeping as well as I’d like to.

I also got into the habit of listening to a guided meditation throughout the day. Sometimes I do it in the morning after waking up, sometimes during my lunch break. It helps me to calm down, to get my body back into a relaxed mode, at least for a bit. Somehow I usually don’t realize how tense I am. Even if I lay down and try to relax … my body is still tense, and my mind races … I don’t relax just because I don’t do anything or I „have time“. I’m often totally tense, without even realizing it. The guided meditations help me to consciously relax and make such a huge difference in my day and in my body.

wrong meditation practice calm inside

Mixed media art “I am loved” – available in my etsy-shop

I’ve been listening to guided meditations now for years. At some point, I had this idea in my head that I really should be learning how to „properly“ meditate. I should be able to do it without relying on a „guide“. I should be able to learn to do it by myself …
I tried many times. There are moments after doing some yoga or while sitting next to a river, where I actually can do some meditating without listening to a guided version. But I still can’t do it just by stopping in the middle of my day and sitting down. It just doesn’t work and trying again and again was super frustrating.

At some point, I even had a „friend“ telling me, that I was not doing it right. That what I call „meditating“ actually is not meditating.
(Maybe the fact that he told me that I was wrong, without considering that it actually was helping me, should have been a clue that he wasn’t really what a friend should be.)
It did make me doubt myself at first … but then I thought, does it matter? Does it matter if someone thinks I’m doing it wrong? Does it matter if I actually WAS doing it wrong?

Who am I hurting by meditating my way?

What is the point, of making it hard for myself and trying over and over again something that is not working for me?

(I don’t wanna say that it generally isn’t worth trying hard! I’m all for working on a skill to achieve it if it’s something you enjoy or something you want to master. But frustrate yourself just to fit into a concept that someone else has? Why?)

Why do I have to do it „right“? Or, is there actually a „right way“? Isn’t it enough if it works? Isn’t it ok to do it in whatever way works, as long as there are benefits?

wrong meditation practice calm inside
Mixed media art “I am loved” – available in my etsy-shop

I kinda decided I was fine with doing it „wrong“.

Actually, I did decide, there is no wrong. It helps me. So I’m using it. Yes, other people do it differently. I don’t mind. I don’t judge. As long as it benefits the individual – isn’t that awesome?!

And if you have tried meditation before and thought it’s not for you – hey, play around!

There are so many different ways to meditate!

If you’re someone like me and the idea of „not doing anything“ makes you break out in sweat due to fear – there are so many other ways to meditate than just by sitting down and thinking nothing! These are just a few ideas:
– guided meditations
– walking meditations
– yoga meditations
– mantra meditations
– body scan mediations
– breathwork
– nature meditations

In my opinion, meditation is a bit like art making – you have to try and see how it feels to find your preferred way!

What is your take on meditation?
Have you tried it?
Has it worked for you?
And if yes, in what way?

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