Eyes closed, legs crossed into contorted pretzels, chanting spiritual verses until my mind numbs had not been my ideal state of being. Endlessly repeating mantras or intensely focusing on inanimate objects with palms in prayer position was an undesirable way of finding nirvana. I wanted to truly master the art of meditation but I could never get beyond the uncomfortable stillness of the practice. My mind was never quiet. Literally. I was always thinking about at least 3 things at a time and it is for that very chaotic reason that I sought some sort of solitary, peaceful practice that would help turn down the volume on my everyday existence.
Wikipedia says "Meditation is a holistic discipline by which the practitioner attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness." Yes! That's what I wanted! I didn't believe any book, DVD or lesson could actually teach you how to achieve it. Let's face it - it is a practice that requires some traits I sometimes have difficulty with: dedication and extreme focus. After reading the popular novel Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and identifying with some of the struggle she described having with hitting the mute button on life during her studies in India, I realized that perhaps my difficulties with meditation didn't lie in the superficial, half-hearted attempts I was making so much as from the lack of identifying the real reason why I felt I needed to meditate. As we all search for a sense of peace in this crazy world, it's obvious our coping mechanisms will differ. After a lot of soul searching, I came to understand that while I craved a quieter life, my actions said otherwise. I fed into the whole "rapid pace of the city" thing by over-scheduling myself, taking on more projects that I could realistically handle, saying yes when I should say no. Once I came to terms with my self-sabotage and consciously made an effort to live a more peaceful existence, meditation became much easier and more effective. Now, without my daily practice, things start to spiral. With it, I'm more productive, centered and balanced. Meditation is not a panacea. It's not the answer to all of life's trials and tribulations. It definitely isn't right for everyone but for me, its a sensible, sane, richly rewarding practice in my quest to continue to live a happy life. Om.