I’ve always valued thinking time. As a kid, I invested a great deal in the act of daydreaming and, with age, my tendency to get lost in thought has only intensified.
I don’t recall when I first heard about meditation. Probably around the mid-sixties, when The Beatles were exploring transendental delights in Rishikesh. Somehow, then, the music born out of the Fab Four’s collective experience was enough to soothe the soul.
Later, I may have have been sitting quietly with my eyes closed, but the route to discovering new induced states of consciousness often involved liberal amounts of alcohol in the company of like minded individuals. Recognising the benefits of a clear mind and calm emotions has always been on the radar, but actually getting to there has been like pushing against a heavy door on seized hinges.
As a mature student, studying philosophy offered a glimmer of daylight. Different ways of thinking about, and seeing, the world. Although, not necessarily understanding it any better. Possible explanations and perspectives were presented to me. Options and choices of such vivid colour and clarity, my mind was often spinning. I remember catching my mother thumbing through my copy of ‘Art: context and value’. “No wonder your brain’s addled,” she muttered, mournfully. That was when I realised that I had set off on a journey, and there was no turning back.
About ten years ago I discovered, by chance, Hariprasad Chaurasia’s Call of the Valley. I listened to it over and over. I enthusiastically recommended it to my late stepbrother, and whilst visiting him in Wales, handed him a copy before travelling home to Hampshire. Later that evening he called to say that he’d listened to the CD in the peace of late afternoon. At the end, his face was wet with tears of joy.
Despite all of these flirtations with ways of seeing, and ways of finding and focusing on my inner being, I have only come to practice meditation in the past two weeks. A particularly stressful period, that caused my blood pressure to rise, and my sleep to be seriously disrupted, pushed me to seek time out in a quiet space. Would you believe, I simply downloaded a free app to my phone – Insight Timer– and allowed the instructor to take me where I needed to go. It has now become a daily practice. I’m not beating myself up about not investigating meditation sooner. In spite of what life may have have challenged me with in times past, I obviously wasn’t ready for this until now. So, at the risk of sounding a little clichéd, the personal journey continues, and I’m enjoying the scenery.