When I was nine, I’d run home from school and see my father meditating, cross-legged and silent on the front balcony.
I bounded upstairs to say hello, but no matter how loudly I whispered or how rapidly I tapped his shoulder, he wouldn’t budge from his “Buddha-like” demeanour. I thought to myself: Meditation is boring, boring, boring. I can’t wait until Baba’s done so we can play.
Baba and I created our own secret language to speak gibberish to each other and we’d laugh while my mother shouted out to us in our Mandarin tongue to stop making nonsense and ordered us to wash our hands for supper. To challenge each other’s strength and flexibility, Baba and I would sit in lotus position, heave our bodies up onto our hands and knees, and race each other across the living room.
Baba taught me how to ride my first two-wheeler, roll my tummy, and snap a Polaroid, but he didn’t teach me how to meditate. I had no urge to sit still, eyes closed, silent, and mindless for endless minutes for no apparent reason but thought: Maybe I’ll try it someday when I’m really old because Baba says it’s good for you.
In my adulthood, I attempted meditation when my life partner invited me to practice with him at a meditation centre during the first year of our relationship. My mind wandered; the floor was hard. Instead of quieting my thoughts, I was mumbling the words “boring, boring, boring” under my breath, like my nine-year-old self coupled with “when the f*ck will this be over?” racing through my adult mind. I pretended I was experiencing joy, because isn’t meditation a meaningful activity to do together as a new couple to expand interests beyond the bedroom of everyday hot sex?
Hmmm, I remember those days.
I reattempted meditation a dozen years later after my father was released from hospital due to illness and returned to his healthy, agile 90-year-old self. Together we visited the Buddhist temple, took off our shoes and practiced meditation. The “boring” mantra paced through my mind, but I thought I was being a dutiful daughter learning meditation and spending time with my father. He told me he preferred practicing his own meditation at home on his own time rather than the structured sessions and we stopped practicing together.
It wasn’t until the pandemic that I reconsidered meditation and my brother-in-law volunteered to teach online schooling to my nine-year-old son Dylan and his peers during school closures. “Mr. B’s” lesson plans revolved around learning about music, the pandemic, mindfulness, and meditation.
One evening after supper, Dylan put away his dishes and announced:
“I need to go meditate.”
“Oh, is that the homework from Mr. B today?”
“No, but I’m supposed to do it every day on my own.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that! Where do you do it, and for how long?
“In my room for one minute, after I put away my dishes.”
Did the “boring” mantra race through Dylan’s mind? He told me it calms and refocuses his thoughts. I was proud of my son; he must have inherited his father’s, and grandfather’s genes when it comes to adhering to meditation practice. When I told Dylan he must have his Daddy’s genes, he replied, “What? I don’t wear Daddy’s jeans!”
Although my initial internal reaction is “boring” whenever I think of meditation, it’s a self-challenge that’s long been penciled on my bucket list to commit to practicing regularly, because of its many benefits. Meditation experiences help people reduce anxiety and stress, calm your mind, sleep better, enhance self-awareness, and boost confidence. My wise, nonagenarian father believes it extends longevity.
I contemplated my current situation and realized,
>> My son’s daily meditation practice is inspirational.
>> The pandemic causes me anxiety but I now have more home time.
>> A friend coincidentally invited me to join a “21-day online meditation journey.”
F*ck. The universe was forcing me—ahem, calling upon me—to attempt meditation again because these three things aligned, so I accepted her invitation. Each day, my friend sent out via WhatsApp a daily intention, mantra, guided meditation recording, and reflective tasks (recorded in my notebook) to our group of participants.
Instead of the “boring” mantra running through my mind, I was awakened with 15 minutes of peaceful music, a calm guiding voice, and daily self-mantra to be repeated during meditation session and throughout the day. Before or after the thoughtful practice, I worked on the assigned daily task. Whenever I completed my practice and task for the day, I sent a message to the meditation group indicating I was done followed by a “green checkmark.”
Now 21 days later, I’ve completed the meditation challenge and found myself awakened in 21 ways:
- I no longer think meditation is “boring.”
- It set structure to my day.
- Sending the “green checkmark” gave me satisfaction.
- I can wear pj’s during meditation.
- I carved out space for “me time.”
- “Me time” was often interrupted by the child living in my house.
- My son is the child who inspired me to try.
- I love and miss writing in my notebook.
- I can’t read my own handwriting.
- Slow down, read, listen, and reflect.
- I’m grateful for life, nature, and purpose.
- I’m scared but stronger, braver, smarter than I think (I think).
- Life’s better when I try, persevere, love, and give.
- I love and trust many people; many people love me back.
- Hard to live in moment, but when I do, I experience joy.
- We’re spiritually connected in our universe.
- Understanding this helps me feel empathy for others, even if they hurt me.
- If I embrace my potential and share creativity, I can chase my dreams.
- There’s nothing magical about meditation.
- But I can make my own magic happen.
- Because everything I desire is within me.
There’s over a lifetime of meditation study for me to embrace, but I’m striving toward threading meditation practice into my lifestyle.
Sometimes it takes the memory of my nine-year old self, a new love relationship, a 90-year-old father, a teacher, a nine-year old son, a pandemic, and a friend to push you through the barriers of procrastination and commit yourself to devoting time, energy, and repetitive actions to something you know innately will lead you toward the path of living a healthier, mindful, abundant life.
Sometimes it’s the simplicity of good timing. That’s magic.