Fear of Meditating

Being afraid of sitting down and being alone with your thoughts for about 10-15 minutes a day has to be the very definition of an irrational fear. Yet, I feel it. There have been so many occasions this year where I have thought “Gee, I should meditate” and instead have decided to play Candy Crush, watch YouTube or scroll through Facebook, Insta and Pinterest, all the while thinking “people are on social media way too much these days.” (Yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy).

It’s prompted me to ask the question to myself; What’s the problem? Why have I chosen not to meditate? despite the fact that I know there are large bodies of scientific evidence about the health benefits of meditating, why does the thought of being alone with my thoughts seem off putting?

Here are the reasons it’s not:

  1. I don’t know how to meditate
    In 2016, I did a health retreat at Golden Door in Hunter Valley where I met a meditation teacher who gave me an hour masterclass on meditation. During that time, I learned lots of breathing techniques. During the class I meditated for about 17minutes and I felt great afterwards. After learning to meditate, I was able to keep up the practice daily for about a month before I fell off the wagon. I have meditated sporadically since and haven’t really been able to maintain a routine.
  2. I don’t have time
    I have time. If I have time to screw up my mental health with social media and candy crush, I definitely have time to meditate.

As I write these; It’s getting me thinking about what it is – which is good and why I started writing this in the first place.

  1. Meditation requires mindfulness. 
    Meditation requires you to stay awake. It is taking time out and being aware of your surroundings and living in the present moment. It’s about being aware of your thoughts and not judging them. It’s really hard! Candy crush is easier because its a form of escape, it allows me to get away from the present moment, it’s also a lot less work.
  2. My environment isn’t set up for daily meditation
    I don’t have a designated meditation spot. I also don’t have a designated meditation time. I’m constantly on the go. One thing I have realised is that I tend to over plan. I have a full-time job; I’m exhausted when I get home from work and weekends are just me recharging my batteries. As I get older I’m starting to understand the limits of my energy far more. I have to reduce my responsibilities.

By reading “Sapiens” I’m growing in my understanding that humans were not meant to spend their lives working and working without rest. Being busy always sounds like it’s an achievement when the reality is having a break also has a lot of additional benefits.

Small is Beautiful

Like any other human being, I constantly compare myself to others. Recently, I’ve been comparing my small speech pathology business to other speech pathology businesses. Thanks to the internet, I am able to look at their beautiful website pictures, numerous staff, their blogs and posts on social media with envy. Afterwards, I look at my tiny little business, and all of a sudden I hate how small it is. How insignificant.

Today, when I arrived home I sat down on my couch and read Chapter 5 of Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens” to my little sister over the phone. This chapter discussed the dawn of the Agricultural Revolution; how, by turning our efforts to tilling the soil and cultivating food we managed to grow our population with increasing success. While this is often seen as a positive shift towards progress, Harari encouraged the reader to think about things differently. Tilling the land took time – more time than hunting and gathering – and the grain cultivated had offered far less nutrition than what was found in nature when hunting and gathering, not only that, but the life of an average farmer was far less stimulating than that of a hunter-gatherer. The bottom line was that although there were more people in the world because farming was able to feed them, people had far less quality of life. It was a really depressing chapter, though it made me reflect on my own life.

My speech pathology practice is small (like a hunter-gatherer tribe) – so if I choose to measure the success of my business by how many people I can hire, how many people come to my practice or my gross revenue then I will lose to most people that I compare myself to and I will always feel disappointed.

Harari’s book reminded me that success isn’t always calculated by numbers, but by quality of life which can often be neglected in businesses focused on increasing revenue (like the farmers who were focused on increasing food production).

I love my little practice; we work hard during the school term and chill out during the school holidays. We go home at reasonable hours, take lunch breaks and make time for professional development and team bonding. We have fewer clients so the few people who see us are given the utmost care and attention and as a result we have a very good retention rate. Fewer people means fewer expenses meaning less stress with money.

Small is beautiful.

By divesting myself of the need to build outwards, I open myself to learn how to build inwards not only on how to be a better clinician and a good boss, but to excel in other parts of my life too.