Moving and meditation

As I write this I can see three boxes. The air reeks of unfamiliarity and I don’t think I’ve figured out the perfect height for my chair yet. Moving house is a puzzling ordeal. But what’s most puzzling is that the place I called home for over a year only felt like home in the weeks leading up to the move. I felt like I hadn't done enough, seen enough, or put enough effort into enjoying it.

I questioned everything: why have I not walked down this road before? Why haven’t I made the most of living here? Will anywhere else feel like home? And yesterday, just before paying someone one day’s wages to throw my stuff in a van and take it down the road – it happened again. That feeling of regret, that things could have been better.

In the middle of last-minute packing yesterday morning, I threw myself onto the balcony for some fresh air. Coughing, sniffing, sneezing - making dust allergies look sexy – I stood, gratefully swapping dust for pollution, and saw something out of the corner of my eye. On the balcony next to mine, which hovered about one metre to the right, I saw a woman sitting down, facing away from me.

She was facing the glass panel that made up the sides of the balcony, so I could see her reflection. She had her eyes closed, her legs crossed, her back straight. She was meditating. If my throat wasn’t so closed up I probably would have made one of the multitude of sounds we humans make when something shocks us. How on earth was she meditating, I thought.

The traffic beneath us, the children crying out to their parents, the reversing lorries, my coughing fit – nothing was disturbing her. We lived so close to each other, yet our interpretations of the tiny part of earth we occupied were worlds apart. The whole time I lived there, I hadn’t been able to meditate with the door closed, never mind doing it outside in the big, noisy world.

My first thought was that she must be pretending. How could she possibly mediate with all that noise? And the three wasps I’d ran away from that morning – my screaming was just another sound she could ignore. 

I realised that I’d made meditation stressful. An exercise that’s been proven to lower stress and anxiety, improve almost everything that can be improved,  had somehow become an exercise in self-criticism.

Why can’t I clear my mind? Why are my deepest, darkest insecurities and fears coming to the surface? Why can’t I sit straight? How am I supposed to concentrate with so much noise? Every time I've tried to meditate my focus has been on this internal conflict. I stress that I’m not doing it right, that I’ll never feel any of the benefits.

Seeing that woman with her perfect posture, her stillness, her serene face in the reflection, taunting me, made me think I could have done better. If she can do it, and I can’t, she must be more resourceful than me, more patient and just better at life.

I’m not sure exactly why I took it as such an insult. But in future, if you’re going to meditate, do it where no one can see you and stop being so selfish.


  1. I too have always thought that people who meditate in chaotic places are just doing so to show off. I thought meditation was supposed to be private, not, "look at me, I'm peaceful even though I'm sitting in the middle of a busy crosswalk."

    I gave up on meditation a long time ago. I thrive in chaos. I get so much more done that way.

    1. Haha exactly! She wanted a reaction from me. You'll have to let me know how you thrive in chaos, I do something closer to melting.