True Confessions. No, I Don’t Meditate (or Do Yoga)
It feels so good to share that with you. I finally got up the courage after reading this Op-Ed by Adam Grant to admit that I do not meditate. I don’t like it. And I don’t do yoga, either.
I’ve been feeling so guilty and stressed because, well, like Mr. Grant, I find meditation boring and yoga both boring and humorous (only when I do it). Until now, I’ve been afraid to admit that I’m so uncool. But it’s true. I’m not cool. I know meditation is supposed to relieve stress, but I find myself sitting and thinking about how stressful it is to sit still. I know, I know. If I can’t sit quietly, I must need to meditate, right?
But I say, no! Yesterday, I was walking my dog in the early morning, just as the sun was rising. It was beautiful. And still. I let my dog off the leash in a grassy area at a church (don’t chastise me. I know dogs are supposed to be on a leash, but no one was out at that hour). I stood between the large trees and listened to two owls calling to each other on either side of me. Believe me, I was, as meditators say, “In the moment.” What if I had stayed inside with my eyes closed, hopelessly trying to reach a state of calm rather than walking in the silent early morning with the dog?
Like Mr. Grant, I’ve had people tell me that meditation changed their life. Famous people meditate (we Americans love our celebrities and wealthy citizens). If only I would meditate, I would be more creative, finish my novel, reach new heights of whatever!
That’s fine for you people who change your life and your brain through meditation. Stress doesn’t bother me that much. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge worrier. I worry about my kids being hit by tornadoes. I worry about them when they’re driving. I worry about them when they’re walking. I worry about them when they’re flying. I worry about them cutting themselves or burning themselves when they’re cooking. You get the idea. I’m a professional needless worrier. But I don’t think mediation would make that go away. I can put it into perspective. I can go for a run and clear my mind. I run almost every day, but I don’t expect other people to do it.
So, it’s okay. I don’t have to meditate. Yay! Mr. Grant points to a study that says it’s not really stress that shortens people’s lives, but the belief that stress is bad that shortens people’s lives.
I was so relieved to hear that because I kind of like stress. It makes me more productive. I’ve been stressed about meeting my deadline for the artwork for my third children’s book, but rather than meditate, I got started on it and before I knew it, I was lost in my drawing and Saturday and Sunday flew by in an instant. The stress forced me to focus, and then I was immersed in several hours of imagination and creativity. Talk about mindfulness.
But here’s the thing that relieves me the most. I’m the kind of person who will try meditation or yoga and if I don’t like them, I think something is wrong with me. And those people who are really good at meditation and yoga, and gain great insight/calm/inner peace from them make me feel like a failure. The “It” that you’re supposed to get just never happens for me. I think if something works so well for other people, there must be something deficient in me if I can’t do it.
The thing is, I really admire people who can meditate. I GREATLY admire people who do yoga regularly. It’s beautiful. People invite me to yoga class all the time, and are surprised that I don’t do yoga. Yoga makes me laugh (at myself). I imagine that I look like a Praying Mantis trying to fight its way out of a paper bag when I do yoga. Maybe I’m too proud to embarrass myself like that. I used to make up excuses for not doing yoga. “I don’t have time,” or “I do yoga occasionally,” or “I try to do it, but…” Now that I’m being honest, I can just say “no.” It’s not for me — the uncool and uncoordinated.
As for meditation, it’s so liberating to just let it go….
Mr. Grant writes: “For some people, meditation might be the most efficient way to reduce stress and cultivate mindfulness. But it isn’t a panacea. If you don’t meditate, there’s no need to stress out about it. In fact, in some situations, meditation may be harmful: Willoughby Britton, a Brown University Medical School professor, ahs discovered numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.”
What a relief! I’m feeling less stressed already.