Before I started practicing mindfulness and going to classes I had no idea what went on. Before I fully embraced it, I stalked mindfulness for ages. My piles of books about it grew and I half-heartedly meditated using headspace but I avoided going to a class because… Well, why did I swerve them?
Things I thought:
- It’ll be full of ’spiritual’ types not like me
- I might recruited into a cult
- I need to be able to do it properly before I can do it in a group
- I’ll have to sit still for an hour, it’ll be boring, I’ll get fidgety
- I don’t know what to wear (I’m right out of harem trousers)
- It’s a bit of a weird thing to do, I’ll go for a run instead
- I don’t need a class, I’ve got books and apps
So I didn’t go.
But although the ideas I was reading about resonated with me and the brief experiences I had meditating gave me the sense that this could be good for me, I was still struggling with my anxiety and depression.
So I did go.
- It was full of a wide range of people who were struggling with stress in all sorts of ways. People like me.
- I got out without being brainwashed at all.
- Turns out there isn’t a way to ‘do it properly’. When we’re practising together, that’s exactly what we’re doing: practising.
- The practices were short and varied. Sitting. Moving. Walking. Talking. And best of all, lying down. If I got fidgety, I fidgeted. If I needed to move, I moved. But generally, having a shared experience and a good teacher helped me focus and quieten down much more easily without the distractions of home. (I couldn’t go on my phone and I couldn’t get distracted by putting the washing on.)
- Disappointingly, only one person had the full batik outfit on. My washed-out black yoga leggings, favourite old t-shirt and warm socks (no holes) fitted in perfectly.
- It wasn’t weird. Well, it might have felt a little odd lying down in a room with strangers (like a sleepover, or an overnighter in a sports hall after a natural disaster has taken your house out, or a low-rent boarding school that can’t afford beds), but it’s surprising how comfortable it quickly felt. Sharing the space and the practice with other people really helped me ‘get it’.
- You don’t ‘need’ a class. The books and the apps are great. But they don’t compare with being in a calm, quiet, kind space with other people, being guided by a real, live person. For me, this switched me from wondering, thinking, analysing whether mindfulness just might help me out of my murky hole, to glimpsing and then really feeling the possibilities and choices that it could offer me. This was quite a life-changing moment and having the space and the time to let that soak down into my bones helped this revelation to stick. And that’s grown over time.
Reading that last one back, it strikes me that maybe I did join a cult? I’ve asked around and general consensus is that I haven’t.
Still not keen on harem pants* though.
Why not try a class?
*I’m working on this. Some of my best friends wear these, and be assured: no discrimination is shown to anyone who wears them to my classes.