Yup. There were two unexpected things when I started learning meditation.
Brain orgasms was one. I’m sorry, but I can’t think of a better way to describe the sensation.
Sometimes during meditation, not always, there’s a slow, pleasurable, build-up in my mind – followed by a blissful release.
The delicious and unexpected mind orgasms relate to the second unexpected thing.
I have an ex who was on an obsessive quest for enlightenment. His latest thing was being absorbed with a punitive hybrid religion. It involved hours of daily meditation.
One day we were talking about the benefits of our respective meditation practices.
I told him about my brain orgasms. He asked how long I meditated for. He said sometimes he had to meditate for three hours to get the benefits.
I answered that I meditate most days for 20 minutes, and 20 minutes only.
(Alice, my meditation teacher, instructs meditating for 20 minutes twice a day; morning and evening. But I can’t be arsed doing it twice a day. I also meditate lying down when she instructs meditating sitting up. I also use my phone timer. She advises not to. Meditation seems a very flexible practice).
I told my ex that sometimes the brain orgasms happened and sometimes they didn’t. With practice I got better at stilling my mind, but some meditation sessions were still filled with mental chatter.
When this happened, I didn’t get the usual sense of rest and peace. Forget about a brain orgasm. It could be quite frustrating.
I discussed the mental chatter problem with Alice.
What she told me, not only made my meditation practice easier, but made other important aspects of my life easier. Alice said:
Whatever happens in the mediation session is what needed to happen.
Alice encouraged me not to fight the chatter – all very ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy). She said by all means try to catch yourself when you get lost in the chatter, but rather than getting frustrated with yourself, just gently return to the mantra.
(I like mantras. I’ve heard “mantra” loosely translates as ‘mind protector’. I certainly find it easier to roll a mantra around my mind than to think of nothing).
Alice’s words really helped. I could come out of a chatter-filled non-relaxing meditation session and be quite relaxed about it. While it was a shame I didn’t have a blissed-out session, evidently a chatter-filled session was what needed to happen.
It’s irrelevant whether I believe this or not. I find it a very useful way of thinking about it.
The journey was more enjoyable when I wasn’t fixated on trying to obtain a particular outcome.
My ex pursued elusive meditation benefits. Sometimes for hours. And he considered the session a failure if he didn’t achieve them.
I suspect that when he stops viewing his ‘non-benefit’ meditations as failures – he’ll stop viewing himself as a failure.
This acceptance of whatever was has helped me in other, unexpected, areas.
Just today I was feeling down, as I haven’t achieved as much work this week as I wanted to.
The older me would be beating myself up for that. The newer me, after catching and stopping the older me from beating up newer me, takes a more accepting, compassionate, and curious view.
- Was I clear about what I wanted to achieve this week?
- Was I realistic in the amount of work I hoped to get done? (I excel at setting myself up for failure with ‘optimistic’ goals)
- Did I achieve more than I realized? (the older me excels at discounting my achievements)
- If I did underperform- what were the reasons for that?
- Are any of those reasons things I can do something about?
- Is there anything I can do differently next week?
All in all, a much nicer, more humane, and more effective, way of being more productive.
A much nicer and more effective way of being me.
I really didn’t expect to learn this level of self-acceptance from meditation.
But I’m so glad I did.
What are your experiences? Have you tried meditating? If not, what stops you? If yes, how have you found it? What helps you optimize your practice? What gets in the way? I’d love to hear your comments below.
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