Early on in our travel lifestyle, I realized I need a routine. I’d read that even a small thing, as long as you repeated it daily, could help give you a sense of being grounded, even when your life is pretty hectic around you. And meditation by its very nature calms the mind and helps you lead a more intentional life.
I’d tried to meditate before, years ago, after Gwyneth Paltrow talked about it in Goop (highly spiritual reasoning, I know), but it didn’t click. I felt I couldn’t shut my mind off. And I’ve tried it again several times over the years, but the brain-on-overdrive feeling just wouldn’t go away.
But in an effort to try and choose a small routine and to grow in my goals of living intentionally, I wanted to try again. So I googled it. (Yes, I literally typed “how to meditate.”) What I found was pretty damn brilliant. Despite what I thought, meditation is not about completely shutting off your brain. It’s about concentrating on what’s happening in your body and mind and learning how to harvest good energy and channel that energy into every aspect of your life.
I’ve heard stories where people have hallucinations or a sensation of flying from meditation, but that hasn’t happened to me. However, it has made me less anxious overall and extremely calm day to day. I don’t worry about the future as much, and in the middle of living this strange nomad life, it’s extremely comforting to have one thing be the same every day.
Knowing how I began my hunt for information on mediation, I thought I’d write down what I do/think about during, in case anyone else wants to try it out. The key I found was the eraser imaging as it helps to really hone in your focus. Ok, so:
I imagine I’m sitting in a huge field, up on a hill. It’s green and lush and smells peaceful, like a summer Sunday. Birds sing, there are trees in the distance and the sun is shining on my face. (There’s no weird position I sit in or anything, just however I feel comfortable, which is usually laying in bed right after I wake up, but before I open my eyes. And I always go back to the same field, because it’s familiar and I’m “safe” there. You could do a beach or mountains or Mars, whatever you want.)
I imagine I have a giant eraser and start to erase the edges of my body, blending them into the surrounding air. I start with my shoulders and work my way down the edges of my body, around my fingers one by one, just smudging my body into the air.
After my body is smudged, I work on my mind. I imagine I can reach all the way into the center of my brain with my eraser and start to swirl my brain and all its contents into the surrounding air. Once my brain is swirled into the air, little puffs of clouds start to form from the smudges. Each little puff contains thoughts and actions and words and feelings, all the things that occupy space in my mind.
The puffs float around my head until I feel I’ve let them go, which just takes as long as it takes, depending on how intense the feelings are. Once I’m comfortable with the idea of letting these things go, I gather the puffs in my hands. The cloud element disappears and the puffs turn into tiny little marbles in my hands. The marbles are cold and smooth. When I feel ready, I throw all of them out into the field towards the trees.
The marbles roll and roll and roll until I can’t see them anymore. The day is still warm and the sun is shining even harder on my face now, but my anxieties are gone and my brain is clear. Once every marble has disappeared, the edges of my body slowly start coming back into focus. (At this point, I’m feeling very light and am starting to “wake up” from the meditation. It’s been probably 15-20 minutes. There’s no real transition point from here, I just open my eyes and get up to go about my day. But I feel extremely calm.)
So, there it is, my meditation ritual that I do every morning. It didn’t come to me all in one day, it came piece by piece over time by letting my imagination roam. Each time I notice something different, a new sound or the exact number of trees in the distance. Every day it seems to get sharper and more realistic.
In my inner desire to be a total hippie, I’d love to one day study Transcendental Meditation with a guru, preferably out in Joshua Tree or something, but for now, my method is working just fine.