Lately I’ve been disliking meditation intensely. I’ve been doing it anyway, but I’ve developed a feeling that there is no point to it. No endgame. I’ve been putting off doing it in the morning, trying to squeeze it in later in the day. Come evening, a glass of wine has been far more alluring than sitting down communing with the universal consciousness. A couple of years ago, when I’d been meditating for a few months, this is how it stopped for me. I’d push it back, then skip one, then one day I wouldn’t do it at all, then a week would pass and I’d realise I hadn’t done it at all; then the habit would be gone.

The problem with meditation is that it doesn’t fundamentally change your nature. It’s not going to change you from a pessimistic type to an optimistic Annie, it’s not going to make you one of those enviable extroverts who can chat to all and sundry about anything from cockatoo politicians to the intricacies of your auntie’s bunion operation if you are an introvert who prefers to scurry around the edges rather than trumpet on the stage. It won’t make you one of those calm, velvet-toned sensible people who never raise their voice, if you are by nature volatile and grew up in a shouty family to boot; it won’t make you all scientific and retrain as a (oh Jesus I can’t even think of one scientific job, apart from ‘science teacher’ or ‘brain surgeon’. It’s concerning)… if your jam is looser than that, less pinpointed on reality and more on the nebulous nuances of skipping and soaring words or hazy, haunting pictures.

I have to remind myself sometimes: what does it do? I’ll speak from my experience, not from what teachers have told me it would do for me. It has made me appreciate every small part of life, really note it and appreciate it. Often, that gratitude is there humming in the background even when I am in the midst of a mood or a bad temper or clouty bout of grumpiness. It has made me get out of those moods much quicker, in a matter of minutes sometimes, whereas before I would have chewed on the stinks of life for hours, days, weeks even. In tandem, it has made me pull way back from those same small parts of life to see them from a wider perspective, which makes me feel calmer about what on earth it is I’m doing with my life – fumbling around, hoping for the best it seems, mostly. It has made me much more accepting of myself – specifically, of my ‘bad’ attributes, shitty things I’ve done, appalling things I sometimes think. That means it has helped me to accept the darker sides of my soul and recognise that they are intrinsically human. It is made me write more because I give that ‘You are shit’ voice short shrift now. It has made me see (super corny alert coming up but sorry folks, this is what meditation does for you) that everyone else around me is my brother and sister, walking alongside me, forging their journey however they can, hoping for the same things that I hope for. Love. Acceptance. Security inside their souls. A role in the world, a meaningful purpose for their existence. A sense that their life, in its entirety, is not only a gift to themselves, but a gift to all around them too.

So I guess I will keep meditating. For now, anyway.

The Walden of suburbia


To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.’ So said the great Henry David Thoreau in Walden. Each day, during his two-year sojourn in a long cabin in the woods near Walden Pond, he would get up to bathe in the pond at dawn, calling it his ‘spiritual discipline… a religious exercise and one of the best things I did.’

Now, I’m sure he didn’t necessarily want to do it every morning. I’m quite certain some early, pitch-black deep cold mornings he woke up and thought: There is just no effing way I’m getting into that pond. I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ve got, like, forever to do this.

But he did it. Every morning.

I like to read about other peoples’ daily routines. I’m an absolute sucker for those ‘I’m winning at life’ spiels you read about, you know, I go to the gym, run, drink a turmeric shot, smear chia seed jam over my face, deal with all my emails, all before 4am. I’ve been reading them for years, but the most fundamental habit I wished I could adopt was simply ‘I get up early.’ I love the idea of those pencil-quiet morning hours, profoundly peaceful moments in which you can create your hopes for the day ahead, and by default for your life. But I’ve never been able to get up early. In my 20s and 30s, I took lie-ins to the max; there were lie-ins so epic that the promising pink of the day would regularly fade into the stifling dark of the night (this is depression).

Now, I have no choice about getting up at Silly o’clock because of my three babies. I’m awake by around 6am, so getting up ‘earlier’ would mean 4am and not much sleep. That will change. Until then, I affect the quality of the day by meditating each day, without fail. It is my spiritual discipline and the rock that I sit on daily – staring into my own version of Walden Pond, a refreshing dip into the reliable immensity of the universe.

meditating is like flossing your teeth



I dislike anything to do with dentists. That’s dentists, hygienists, dental chairs, that swirly thing you spit in. All of the sounds. But after three back-to-back pregnancies and their affect on my teeth, I am vigilant about getting my teeth cleaned.

Yesterday, as I lay back in the chair getting them scaled and polished, a rhythmic mantra pecked around in my head, ricocheting to the scrape and tap of those sinister metal tools. It went like this: ‘Yep, this sucks. I hate this. Wow, this, I hate this. There is nothing pleasant about this.’ Repetitive, unhelpful and relentless, this cheery ditty droned on and on until the hygienist had finished.

Meditation can be like this.

I don’t skip down to it wearing a floaty silk kaftan, my obedient neurons all set to be plugged in to the universe. Often, I sit there and think: ‘Yep, this sucks. I hate this. Wow, this, I hate this. There is nothing pleasant about this.’ But I do it every day, and I don’t think much about the action itself anymore, otherwise it wouldn’t get done.

I leave the dentist with teeth that are cleaner, shinier. Whiter. And each time I finish meditating, I know that some cleaning has taken place, too. However unremarkable – like the absent-minded sweeping of fallen leaves – or monumental, like the grunting, sweaty pull of a gnarl of poison ivy, my brain feels different after I meditate.

Cleaner, shinier. Whiter. Ready to flash its new-found freshness onto the world.