The Problem with Visualisation Meditation… I get distracted.
‘Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Now exhale. You are sitting on a mountaintop. Relaxed. Surrounded by valleys, forests, rivers and snow covered peaks. The fragrant smell of pines trees drifts up to you on a pleasant, warm breeze.’
This is the beginning of a visualisation meditation. A calming voice guides your imagination through a serene situation.
My problem with meditation is I like to embellish. In my mind, I’m not sitting on mountain scree. I’m reclining. On a hand-carved Balinese day bed. Luxuriating in high-thread-count linen sheets and Missoni cushions. You’ve got to be comfortable right?
As I’m drinking in this detail, the calming voice, let’s call her Barbara, continues ‘… you realise you are not alone. You are aware of the presence of another being nearby. This is a special being. Your Inner Guide’.This special being, she explains, can be anyone you choose. Real, fictional, family member, friend. Anyone.
I always choose my Aunty Dot.
The problem with meditation – I get distracted
‘You see your Inner Guide sitting on a rock’. I don’t think so Barbara. That’s not how I picture her. In my imagination, Dot is sitting in a comfy armchair wearing one of her favourite outfits. With a great hairdo. We haven’t seen each other for a very long time. She would want to look good. She has a wide, warm welcoming smile. Silently acknowledging the significance of the moment.
‘Your inner guide always has your best interests at heart. Whenever you feel troubled or in need of some direction. Your Inner Guide will listen and give you wise counsel’. I walk over to Dot. We hug. No tears. Just the tight bear-hug of a loved one.
Dot died many years ago.
At this point, I deviate from Barbara’s script. Zoning out of her commentary. Dot and I have a lot to catch up on. ‘I’m really well Pete. I’m in a lovely place. I spend my time hanging out with your Nana and Grandad having a great laugh. I feel fantastic AND I’ve got my boobs back!’ She is her old self. As she was before the illness… Vital. Ballsy. Funny. Cheeky.
Dot had cancer. First in her breast. Then the rest of her body. It was cruel and bloody unfair. Fuck Cancer.
The purpose of meditation
Catching up with precious loved ones isn’t the purpose of meditation. But I’m going to pass up an opportunity to catch up with my favourite aunty. Hell no.
Like many people, I first tried meditation a few years ago using the Headspace app. I then got more serious and did a 10-week course.
Before you pigeonhole me in a stereotypical shaped box. I’m not a Buddhist. I don’t wear Turkish pants. I’m not Vegan or even vegetarian. I have no faith. That’s a problem with meditation. People need to categorise you.
I am still an atheist. A kind, caring, thoroughly decent Atheist. Unsurprising given my agnostic Yorkshire upbringing. As a child, I once asked my Nana a question about heaven. Smirking, she characteristically pushed her glasses back up to the bridge of her nose… ‘Oh Pete. You don’t want to go there. You won’t know anyone. We won’t be there’. My religious instruction in a nutshell.
Meditation has its roots in Buddhism. But has jumped the chasm to the mainstream. The benefits are now widely accepted.
In my experience, just 10 minutes a day helps to manage stress. Give it a go. Or don’t. Up to you. No skin off my nose. I find meditation breaks the cycle of worry when you’re feeling particularly stressed. Leaving you mentally refreshed.
Goodbye Inner Guide
The problem with meditation of this type is that it has to end. Barbara tells me I have to say goodbye to my Inner Guide (Dot) but ‘know you can seek her out again any time you want’. Now even if you have a problem with meditation, that is a beautiful thing.
You might like I hadn’t felt the need to go. But I was curious