When I started to meditate, I arrogantly thought that I would be good at it. I'm generally pretty good at sitting still, and I can stare off into space for hours, so I figured I'd be a natural.
Nope nope nope nope nope.
My monkey mind is as active as anyone else's. From the moment I plunk my ass down on my meditation cushion at way-too-early o'clock, my mind starts wandering to anything other than my breath.
Should I put dried cherries or dried blueberries in my oatmeal today? I had dried cherries yesterday, but they are my favourite, so maybe two days in a row is okay.
Should I go to yoga at 5:30 or 6:45? I like the 6:45 instructor better, but I'm always hangry because I have to wait to eat supper.
I wonder if next year's conference is going to be in Barcelona. I've never been to Spain. I could eat tapas. Mmmmm. Tapas. Maybe I should go to the tapas restaurant this weekend and have patatas bravas.
And on and on. No matter how many times I bring my attention back to the in and out of my breath, it inevitably wanders back away. Over and over again.
Which, for a perfectionist, is just a little annoying. Some days I can sit with the distraction, watching my thoughts wander away and patiently bringing them back. Other days I scream in my head "OMFG what the fuck is wrong with you it's just sitting and breathing it's not hard stop thinking about eating Hagen Daas when you get home from work tonight!"
The only reason I've been able to stick with it for over six months (six months!) is because I am a compulsive reader, and every single thing I've ever read about meditation has said that this is okay. This is normal. The wandering and returning isn't failing - it is the practice.
But I still find it hard to let go of the idea that someday I'll figure it out and every meditation will be bliss. A few weeks ago, I went to a group meditation, and I meditated for a solid 45 minutes. And it was awesome! I have never in my life sat so peacefully and been so focused on my breathing. I thought I had done it!
And then the next morning, on my cushion, my brain said "Don't forget to take your lunch to work today because it's the pasta sauce you really love and you'll be really sad if you leave it on the counter and you have a busy morning clinic and the pasta sauce will be good after clinic as long as you don't fuck up and do something stupid in clinic, in which case you'll be crying into your pasta sauce and it will be ruined forever and you'll need to find a new favourite recipe which is really hard to find so you'll probably be miserable until you die alone and without good pasta."
So yeah. This is me on meditation.