I struggled for years to find an enjoyable form of meditation. I had some amazing mind expanding experiences with various practices, but was no closer to attaining my true goal of inner peace. Anxiety was a normal part of my life and relaxation did not come easily for me.
For some reason it didn’t occur to me that learning to be at peace was the same as learning any other skill. Practise is the key. I realised I had practised many techniques previously, but rarely actually practised being peaceful. I meditated with tension and force, rather than in a relaxed manner. I learned various breathing techniques and exercises which gave me glimpses of what was possible, but I was no closer to achieving the tranquil state that I longed for.
It wasn’t until I gave up on meditation that I discovered a technique that consistently worked for me. Although I had stopped meditating, I was still inspired by the idea of becoming more serene. I collected magical images that intrigued me, and studied the movement of graceful yogis. These showed me that the extent to which we can experience peace is limitless. It is a beautiful never ending journey into the depths of our soul.
Instead of focusing on a specific posture or breathing exercise, I began to embody this more harmonious way of being. I had a wealth of inspiration to draw upon now. At first I visualised these peaceful images of other people, and did my best to embody the same feeling by copying them. Gradually I was able to see myself in this way. At first I worried that I was just pretending, but it’s no different from pretending to do a handstand. If you pretend enough you’ll be doing it before long!
The peace I felt was profound and very real. It became a part of my daily life, because rather than being dependent upon a specific technique, it was a result of simply practising being peaceful. I still frequently suffer from anxiety, but I am relaxed MUCH more than I am anxious now, rather than the other way around.
You may at first think you don’t know how to relax. I certainly believed this for a while. If peace is something you long for you must have some concept of what it is, otherwise there would be no longing. You may recognise it in something outside of yourself, but to recognise this feeling of tranquility you must be experiencing it, if only for a brief moment.
The key to feeling it more consistently is practice. Use whatever techniques help you, like steady breathing, movement, or sitting in a particular posture, but prioritise calmness over the meditation method. Don’t be afraid to pretend, as this will inevitably lead to your body and mind settling down, if only for a moment. Don’t force anything, just be at peace for one moment. Feel the feeling for a split second. This is progress. With more practice being peaceful you will be able to feel it for longer. Eventually you will be able to embody a more easeful state at will.
There will always be situations where this seems impossible, but if we acknowledge that it is an endless journey and commit to the process we can enjoy the challenge of becoming the most peaceful version of ourselves. Every little bit of practice we do will have a beneficial ripple effect in our lives. Even a few seconds of inner stillness is worthwhile, as each time will strengthen our ability.
We may not notice the effects immediately, but like anything else in life, you get out what you put in. If we spend time swimming, playing guitar or juggling these things will become easier. Similarly, if we invest our time peacefully, we will experience more peace as a result.
How do you like to meditate? What relaxes you, and how can you incorporate more of this into your life? I would love to hear from you with any other comments below 🙂