Meditation has been one of those wonderful discoveries along my life journey. I remember trying meditation years ago as a student at Cornell. At the time, I was still on the mend from severe depression, anxious about losing my grip on academics, and had heard that meditation helped with stress. That meditation session was a somewhat failed attempt, or maybe not, as I was probably in the contemplative stages of accepting meditation as a practice that would work for me. I was too restless to be still, and it was a very tense hour because of that. I clearly remember telling a friend how meditation had the opposite effect on me (now I know that when starting meditation, one becomes aware of all these seemingly exploding thoughts, which subside with practice :)
Then I came across meditation again as a student at Simon Fraser University. It was a fairly anxious time for me, as I had returned to school after a few years, and my fear of not being able to succeed academically based on my experiences at Cornell was still raw and felt very real. The Counselling Department was offering one hour Vipassana (or insightful) meditation classes/sessions every week, and I decided to give meditation another shot (actually I had forgotten about my first meditation experience, so it was more like starting meditation from scratch). This time, meditation clicked with me, and it was a wonderful experience. Partly because there was more guidance this time around, where the psychologist would explain the purpose of meditation, that there would be thoughts that arise, but it was about being mindful in the present, and letting thoughts go. With practice, I even had a few sessions where at times my mind felt blank, and at others, it felt like my mind was expanding. Ever since that wonderful discovery five years ago, I have been a fairly devout student of meditation, either listening to meditation mp3s in my spare time, or seeking out group meditation sessions in the community. Hopefully, the next step will be to incorporate five minutes of still meditation practice, by candlelight, either in the morning or evening.
Although nowadays I find it difficult to meditate with a blank mind, I still enjoy the sense of calm I feel immediately afterwards (yes, even with all those roaming thoughts!) I love the sense of peace and stillness that accompanies silent meditation, and I love the gong that signals the beginning or end of a session. I have done one retreat in Knutsford, and hope to do more in the future. Meditation is a great way to become more self-aware, and to ground oneself when things seem too overwhelming and it's difficult to anchor oneself. Thank you, meditation, for being a part of my life.