6-Week Meditation Course Completed
A short reflection of what the experience brought me and life lessons I gained
If you’ve been keeping up with my recent articles, I started a meditation course some time ago and I’ve been keeping logs on what I’ve been learning and writing about it here on Medium.
The last few sessions, which will be the topic of this reflection article, have been my favourite yet as we’ve expanded our scope of practices and talked about how some of the things we learned during our exercises coincide with real-life principles and lessons.
The first new exercise we did was a sequence of self-contact, where we tapped ourself lightly all over our body, then vigourously, then lightly again.
During this, I felt receptive enough in the first light part, but after the vigorous part, I could feel more internal response to the light touch that followed— it’s like my skin became more sensitive after I woke it up with the vigorous touch.
This kind of reminded me of the cycle of being naïve to having an experience where you’re challenged, then being wiser and more aware of how you failed in your previous experience so you don’t repeat your mistakes.
While I couldn’t feel the sensation of tapping as deeply as we were aiming to, Steve said something I really liked at the same moment that I could feel some self doubt settling in
“Feel it everywhere in your body — maybe you can’t, that’s okay. The intention is to be available to that possibility”
In the bigger picture, this was a powerful message, because it taught me that instead of going through the motions and losing trust in your ability to do something, continuing to try is the most important thing to do.
Only by internalizing that what you’re striving for is possible are you able to make your ideal scenario a reality.
This lesson served as a reminder that practice would get me there, and sure enough, as I repeated this exercise, I began to feel more receptive to the sensations.
Following that, we continued our hand over heart and belly exercise, but with a little twist. We did sitting down, eyes open then closed, and standing, eyes open then closed.
Through this practice, I took notice of the little things — when you’re standing with hand over heart/belly, you become really aware of the way your weight is distributed on your feet, your posture, the way you stand, etc.
Simply bringing awareness to the most simple actions like standing unlocks so much sensation and realization that would otherwise be ignored, so I think this exercise could be really powerful in day to day life when you feel like it’s racing by and you need to be grounded. If you’re fully committed, becoming present can be as easy as that.
A final exercise we tried was walking as slow as possible — something the majority of us were surprisingly bad at.
When I tried it, I felt like I was in a trance. I’ve never needed to focus so much in order to walk before and doing so made me take notice of how much rockier my balance, movement and fluidity / rythm of walking was.
When we walk at a normal pace, we’re so used to it that we take for granted that every step forward will be successful, but when walking slowly, you’re putting concious effort into ensuring that.
This is similar to how doing things we’re comfortable with or qualified / prepared for comes so naturally, while challenging ourselves with something unfamiliar and uncomfortable is much more challenging, painstaking, and ultimately, slow-moving.
Similar to the light-vigorous-light sequential exercise, we then transitioned to flow walking, where you walk faster with no hesitation or pausing — essentially just having a very sure-footed step forward where you have no capacity to slow down.
This was a very different experience because I was no longer able to analyze the subtleties in the way I walk or distribute my weight, I was simply thinking “go, no stopping!”
We drew a parallel of this transition from slow to flow walking to major transitions in life, and I think there was a big lesson to be learned there too.
When you’re moving slow, you’re so hyperaware of your movement that it’s 100-focus on what you’re doing, whereas what you’re focused on during flow is having the will and determination to keep pushing forward and moving quickly.
Basically, our mind is thinking of very different things in each state. While that’s only natural, that means that there’s a steep decline in our self-awareness and focus on our actions when we get to flow.
Within this transition, there’s a lot of room for error. As Steve put it, it can either be a huge success or a massive failure. What I took away from this is that you need to know when each state is appropriate. Slow, you’re optimizing for precision, and flow, you’re simply not stopping for anything.
Thinking about this, it wouldn’t be sensible to do something you’re not familiar with or skilled at in flow. You’d be speeding through actions you’re not doing well and ultimately fail more than if you’d taken the time to slow down and focus on accuracy.
This note was valuable to me because many times, we feel the need to move fast and do more so as to prove ourselves and make us feel like we’re doing great — but if that’s causing more harm than good, you need to have the humility to admit your mistakes to yourself and learn from them.
This is not to say that there won’t be times in life where you don’t get the choice to choose, but the same principle of self-honesty and learning from failure holds here too.
Lastly, Steve also emphasized self-honesty, which I appreciated, as that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about during the last few months as I realized that excuses were the biggest cause of my failure to get things done.
A new take that I found reinforced my will to be more self-honest is that when you do so, you need not look at it as a mechanism to blame yourself or to feel shameful about yourself, etc. but rather, to empower yourself.
Although you could go through life being completely ignorant that your actions determine your results and that everything is your responsibility (a principle I learned through The Subtle Art), this doesn’t help you grow.
You need to be willing to put yourself in positions where failure is possible or probable so that you can learn more about yourself and gain knowledge that will help you down the line —maybe starting with walking slow 😉
All in all, I gained a lot of practical exercises (thank you Steve for focusing on real-life applicabiltiy) and valuable lessons that will no doubt help me become a better, more self-aware person. Meditation was such a new avenue for self-discovery and I encourage everyone to explore it themselves too!