“It’s okay if you still have thoughts moving around in your head,” I tell the group. “That’s fine. Picture them slipping by like clouds across the sky. Let them be there, but also let them go. Don’t judge them, but don’t hold onto them. Just let them go.”
That was the hardest part for me when I first started coming to these classes myself.
Laissez-les, laissez-les, the teacher would say, over and over again, but the more I was told to let go, the tighter my thoughts seemed to hold on. Releasing myself into the moment has always been easy when I’m moving. When I dance, the world unravels itself into something that makes sense. I’m a vessel for emotion, but it doesn’t control me. Feelings pass through me like they’re shapes in the clouds and I’m the wind that pushes them.
Doing the same thing while sitting in a park took some practice, but giving up was never an option. I knew if I wanted to keep practicing the art of movement I would also need to learn the art of being still.
The heroine of Your Echo, Stéphanie Cloutier-Hébert, volunteers as a meditation teacher in her spare time, which is what eventually lands her face to face with Ace Turner. There are several scenes in the novel where Stéphanie describes what the practice means to her, and others where Ace begins to see the benefits for it himself. While I'm no authority on the subject, I did draw a lot from personal experiences when describing these instances in the book.
I used meditation EXTREMELY frustrating. I'd sit there trying and failing to clear my mind, getting more and more exasperated in the process until I ended up even more stressed out than when I started. I thought it just wasn't for me, and that my brain didn't work like that.
It wasn't until I learned to think of meditation as a PROCESS that I really started to see it having a positive effect on me. Learning to meditate is like building up a new muscle: it takes time and practice. You aren't just going to magically be able to lift those mental dumbbells right from the start. You have to begin with baby steps and work your way up. You have to acknowledge your limitations and accept whatever stage you're currently at as being the exact right place for you in that moment.
...which all sounds a bit out there, I know. It definitely did to me when I was making my first attempts, but all that 'out there' stuff has since grown to be something that brings me a deeper kind of peace than I ever anticipated finding through meditation. It's gotten to the point that whenever I go a few days without meditating, I get all antsy and irritated and wonder how I ever used to feel like that all the time. It's seriously changed so much about how I process life.
If you're looking for some easy and accessible guided meditations to follow, I'd highly recommend this series by Boho Beautiful. They're very well put together, and there's a strong sense of encouragement and support. Kino Yoga also has some great guided meditations I really enjoy following. Both those accounts also have awesome yoga videos too!