Why I (try) to #meditate everyday (ok – a few times a week)

By: Carla Ricalis

Meditation is something I’d always thought about doing. I read about it and knew of its countless benefits, but it never transpired into any type of regular practice. I admired it from afar, but was intimidated and figured that in order to start, I needed to go big: commit at least one hour every day, learn Sanskrit, join a retreat.

My limited knowledge shaped a narrow opinion that meditating was inaccessible and unrealistic if I didn’t have vast amounts of free time to commit to it everyday.

When the pandemic hit, I found myself moving through a fragmented schedule with little focus and loads of frazzle; a very different pace from my regular routine as a Pilates instructor and the owner of a Toronto Pilates studio.

To avoid the anxiety of the situation, I created to-do lists that bordered on the absurd and got very little done, which added to my stress.

At the time, a friend suggested meditation. In an attempt to navigate between what I thought meditation was and my need to multi-task, I began two hours power walks everyday in a nearby ravine.

Geared with iPods and Podcasts, I listened to everything from Buddhist monks to film historians and justified it as a form of meditation because I was setting aside some ‘me time’ and focusing on something other than the ‘what if’s’ playing nonstop in my mind.

In hindsight, I had just taken my anxiety and brought it on a forced walk through the woods.

Several months into the pandemic, my days continued to be filled with worry but very little structure – and I was still traipsing daily in the ravine. But I realized that many of the life stories I was learning about on the podcasts had meditation as a common thread. And that the practices came in many different shapes and sizes.

From two minutes segments to two hour sits, people shared that meditation was an integral part of their lives because they’d learned to make it accessible and didn’t confuse it with goal setting and expectations. It wasn’t on their daily to-do list.

From Transcendental Meditation to a Mindfulness focus, it became clear that meditation was not about accomplishing something; it was about being honest with what you can manage and what works for you.

It was about fitting it into your day, whether for two minutes or two hours, so that you can honour your practice instead of being frustrated by it. And it was about being gentle with yourself on the days that you didn’t meditate for long, didn’t meditate with good focus or just didn’t meditate at all.

Now, more than a year into this pandemic my ego would love to say that I meditate everyday for at least half an hour – but I don’t.

At the very most, I sit and meditate for 10 minutes at a time maybe three or four days a week. And that’s okay.

The more I meditate, the more I want to because it’s an opportunity to bring some focus and calm to the unpredictability of life.

By taking a seat on the cushion or park bench and focusing on my breath, I’ve discovered what Sharon Salzberg calls the ‘magic moment’ – where I become aware that my mind has drifted to the ‘what-if’s’.

It’s a moment that is part of the process where I can pause, accept, refocus and settle into the gift I’ve given myself; to be still and quiet for a bit of time.

To me, meditation is about learning to let go and begin again and to be gentle with myself in the process. And learning that has made me more focused, less stressed and genuinely okay with the option of letting go and beginning again.

Join Studio3 Yoga Instructor Linda Griffith for a 4 weeks online beginners Spring Meditation Series starting May 11 and learn some of the basic ways to still your mind, focus and integrate a simple, accessible meditation practice into your week.

To register, click the link below or email adminsamantha@studiopower3.ca