On the surface, university culture does not seem well suited to meditation. It’s full of all-nighters, parties, fleeting relationships, emotions, and high-stress work routines. It also doesn’t help that I’m a student filled with anxiety, and always feel as though I never have enough time.
I am in my final year and am making time for meditation for the first time in my life. This week is particularly stressful for work, but I am hoping to push past my resistance and practice meditation every morning. I’ve read the Higher Self Yoga blogs on stopping negative thought patterns, meditation for sleep, and visual meditation techniques for new meditators to inform my practice. With those in mind, I decided on this loose structure:
- Breathing and body scan
- Deep breathing exercises, counting breaths
- Practice noticing my surroundings
I aimed to do it at the same time every morning and stayed open to practices outside of my structure. I also hoped to try some higher self visualization later in the week.
Here’s how it went…
I meditated after yoga, which made it easy to focus on my body and breath. I tried to listen mindfully to my surroundings and heard the boiler in the closet. In my relaxed state, it sounded like waves emanating from my right cheek. I enjoyed noticing that and felt like I was peeling away from my buzzing conscious mind. The mailwoman came and I had to leave, which made it difficult to get back into the flow when I returned and found my breathing had shallowed. I hope that later in the week I’ll get better at dealing with distractions.
It was a stressful morning and I forgot to meditate at the same time I did yesterday. I did it once I remembered, and sat down full of accelerated thoughts. At first, it felt rushed like it was another task on my list, but then I welcomed the opportunity to rest and reflect. I started noticing the rain, and after a while, I heard some birds I had never noticed before. Sitting down to work, I couldn’t un-hear the birds, which made me smile all day. I found I could work easily and my focus was soft and clear rather than in intense bursts of frenzy. I was very grateful to have a pause and an opportunity to re-set after a hectic morning.
I forgot to meditate at the same time I aimed to again, which I think is to do with the lack of schedule in corona-age education. Though I am getting better at getting into the flow of it, I noticed I was observing myself in the third person, reflecting on myself reflecting. Next time, I hope I can let go of the idea of “progressing” and give myself permission to embody the moment without judgment.
It is definitely getting easier to feel mindful and calm, and I’ve stopped self-narrating so much. It is really nice to have a moment of stillness before starting the day. Meditating has helped me realize that work doesn’t have to be torture and I am allowed to be kinder to myself in my approach. As I meditate more, I’ve started thinking about the people and things I am grateful for. Today, I was grateful for the sun shining, my friends, and even for the work, I was about to do. It has helped things feel less like a chore.
I’ve skipped a day because I forgot to meditate yesterday. I tried to approach day six forgiving myself for day five but felt nervous before I sat down. My mind was telling me “don’t focus on the moment! or you won’t be able to carry on.” I pushed through, and after my mind settled down I was comforted by the birds again. I tried to envision my higher self, but got carried away by the imagery and couldn’t decide on a meadow or a mountain. I let it go and forgave myself for it not working this time. I focused on relaxing my body and felt my jaw loosen and came back into the present moment. When I opened my eyes, I felt dizzy, as if I had just woken up again.
On the last day, when I sat down and did the body shut-down it almost made me emotional. I anchored myself in breathing, and then imagined meeting my higher self. It was a clear image this time, and I pictured myself walking up the snowy peak of Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano where I live in Edinburgh. I saw myself walking up the steps and passed through a doorway to meet my Higher Self. I tried not to get too preoccupied with picturing what I would look like and instead felt my higher self as pure, warm, clear energy. My higher self gave me a hug, and then I focused back on my body to integrate that feeling.
After my week of meditating, I have felt a new expansion in my environment and body. My favorite part was noticing my surroundings, and sound has been my favorite sensory anchor. We students can get so caught up in grind-culture, and often think the only way to work is to self-flagellate until the assignment just gets done. Meditation has taught me that being kind to yourself is not a hindrance, and I will carry this with me moving forward. Meditation and Higher-Self practices can help young people see beyond the turbulent present and listen to what our minds and bodies are actually asking for, which is sometimes just some love and attention. I would recommend regular meditation to any student, and once you push past the feelings of being “too busy” it can open up a new world of mindful self-care. I am also grateful to have finally noticed the birds, and have just installed a new feeder on my window.
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