Night Sky on Kili. Maybe I should have just looked up at this for meditation. Photo Credit: Freddy Aguero
While meditation is proven to be beneficial, I just can’t do it. I am possibly the world’s worst meditator. Still, when I was hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, out of desperation I turned to meditation. On the mountain during the long, dark night when I was shivering and wondering why I’d done this to myself, I attempted a variety of meditative tactics.
I used visualization, picturing myself sinking into warm, black sand. I was still cold and awake.
Deep breathing had its turn.
I tried to imagine I was the sun radiating warmth and light.
Counting wasn’t helpful.
I tried relaxing my brain.
I tried clearing my mind.
You might just call it lying to yourself, but I told myself I wasn’t cold.
Reciting a repeated mantra didn’t coax me back to bed.
Eventually, I started singing the lullaby my mom used to sing me as an attempt to self-soothe. She would rock me to sleep with Summertime—the song where the living is easy. I imagined it was summer and thought about how somewhere the living was easy. Nothing seemed to help.
I returned home and exclaimed definitively to a friend, “I tried meditation and it doesn’t work.” She just laughed at me, which was fair. “Maggie, that’s not how it works. You can’t just turn to meditation when you are desperate and expect it to work. It takes practice. You know that. What if someone said Pilates didn’t work after trying it once and not seeing immediate results?”
She’s right, of course. I was looking for an excuse because I don’t like mediation, in part because I’m not good at it. Most of the tools in life that make us feel better require practice, patience, and persistence.
I’ll try again with meditation. It would have been a nice tool to have in my tool belt on that mountain.