Mediation came into my life unintentionally. I wasn’t seeking calm. More accurately, I wasn’t aware that I wanted to be, or could be, calmer. I really wasn’t aware of much.
I began yoga, much to my hesitation, following a recommendation from a friend. I was battling digestive issues, and had been just started seeing a naturopath to address them. Yoga was apparently an alternate way to heal many of the issues I was living with. A very close family friend happened to have just opened a Mindfulness Studio- ‘Happy Melon,’ around the corner from my home and suggested I come in for a tour.
The moment I stepped foot in the studio, I was greeted by warm faces, a beautiful and serene environment which immediately made me feel at home. Following my introduction week, packed full of Pilates and Yoga, I committed to becoming a foundation member. It wasn’t until the third week into my membership that I decided to join a meditation class. I had no expectations, from what I remember. What I do remember, vividly, is what I was wearing, where and how I was sitting and the sound of my first teacher’s voice.
A few moments into the guided meditation class, I found myself spinning into what felt like a downward sucking whirpool. I was extremely anxious, so much so, I felt paralysed. I couldn’t send the message to my head to move, or to my eyes to open. Afterwards, I spoke to the teacher and told her of my experience. She ensured me that the more I practise, the easier it would get.
Over the first month, I discovered that I was controlling so much of my life, and was bringing that need to control things into my meditation practice. The moment I felt myself relaxing into a different state, I sent myself into a severely paralysing, anxiety written spiral. I am thankful for this start, as it emphasised a major reason for me to continue. I am proud and grateful that I persisted through those initial circumstances.
The benefits of regular mediation practice have been unraveling to this date and only assume they will continue to. Many, I put straight away to the fact I was practising daily yoga and meditation, others came to be by surprise.
Before meditating, I would complain about pain in the stomach, energy levels, headaches, A LOT. The words ‘I feel sick,’ would roll off my tongue before I even realised I had said it. I thought it was unfair and I spent a lot of time, and money, at my local GP. When I think about it today, that time of my life almost seems like a distant blurred memory, a bad dream. With the addition of a change of diet, regular holistic naturopathy visits, yoga and meditation has changed this. I would almost like to say, it has healed this part of my life. Not only do I not as often feel sick, but I have changed my relationship with my body and how I would normally react when I was feeling sick. I allow feelings to be there, whether wanted or unwanted, and welcome, investigate and nourish them in a positive way. I don’t remember the last time I have said the words, ‘I feel sick.’
Consequently, my energy levels are at a maximum. I am excited and happy to get up before the sun rises to practice meditation. I feel energized and use my newfound energy to do the things that make me content- yoga, walks, formal mediation, pilates, work and relationships.
Another benefit of meditation is my improved ability to make decisions, big and small. This change happened less to my awareness than some of the others. It was when I hadn’t mediated for over a week, that my co-worker stated he had noticed I was unable to make a basic decision; what I felt like to eat, whether we wanted to meet in his room or mine, whether I wanted to plan Maths or English. I realised that the more I meditated, the more innate and easy moment-to-moment choices were. Meditation had created space in my mind for decisions to be made naturally, easily, without attachment. Larger, more life changing decisions and choices have been made since, such as changing my career direction and moving to a home life which both better suit my needs.
As mentioned above, prior to my mindfulness and meditation journey, in order to feel safe I went to alarming lengths to be in control. I planned everything down to a tee, including what other people were doing around me. Little to my knowledge, it was doing more harm than good and the moment an unconscious plan seem to be playing out in a different direction, I would fear the outcomes. I also assumed I could control the way other people felt, especially family members, and found myself extremely anxious and reactive when I thought they seemed unhappy, or off track.
Meditation and mindfulness has opened my eyes to the capacity and understanding of my control. I now understand that the only person I can control and that I am truly responsible for, is myself. Consequently, I look after myself very well. It is needless to say, when I look after myself by meditating and practicing yoga, I am more attentive, reliable and connected to the people around me. I can clearly see the difference between realistic healthy goals and unhealthy structured plans and therefore live much more in the present moment.
On topic of the present moment, I have to say that ‘living in the now’ has been one of the most evident, drastic changes. Six months into my mindfulness journey I was driving home from a weekend away with my partner when I noticed a full moon up in the sky. I couldn’t believe my eyes and asked Matt if there was some sort of one off, amazing moon experience currently happening, to his reply- that is called a full moon, it happens every month.
Following that experience, I slowly began to notice more and more things, including the monthly phases of the moon. On my walks, I notice my surroundings and feel the effects of the current experience on all my senses. It brought to my attention that for all my previous walks, drives, any moment of silence, I was primarily caught up in the loud, tangled web of my thoughts and stories and was not experiencing the physical surroundings around me.
All the reasons I meditate seem to strengthen like a muscle the more I practice, and weaken when I do not.
I am so content, and so aware of my emotions in response to situations. In addition, when I am feeling anger, sadness or stress in relation to an experience I am aware of how to deal with it positively and develop mentally from it. I am extremely eager to spread the life-changing impact that living mindfully and practising meditation can bring. Above all, I am enthusiastic about ensuring that children are supported and specifically taught positive strategies to cope with the stress, anxiety and difficult emotions faced in everyday life.
My name is Charlotte Gibson. I am a Primary School Teacher, a daily meditator and 'deep thinker,' with children's well-being at the core of my thoughts.