How to start meditating (even if you aren’t the meditation type), with Lucy Cargill

Minka: Hi everybody and welcome back to Minka Guides. This month we’re talking about how you can start meditating, even if you’re not the meditating type of person.

I’m really happy today to have my lovely friend Lucy Cargill here with us. How are you doing today, Lucy?

Lucy (she/her): I’m great. Thank you. How are you?

Minka: I’m good.

Now, Lucy, you’re originally from Edinburgh in Scotland but where in the world are you right now?

Lucy: I’m in India right now hence the meditation 101 background with the dream catchers.

(laughs)

Me and Bronwyn have been trying to do this call for a while but the internet has not been great. So we’ve taken this opportunity to just do it right now.

I’m in India and I’ve been out here for a couple of months studying breathwork and other forms of things. 

But yes, originally from Scotland via London and New York for a while.

Minka: Nice.

I’m recording this in Melbourne, Australia and Australia, a lot like India has been you know deeply affected by colonization. So, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where I am right now which are the Wurundjeri people and to pay my respects to their elders past present, and emerging. 

How to start meditating CREDIT Lucy Cargill

So Lucy, to introduce you a little bit to everybody: you are a 38-year-old, cis bi monogamous woman and you are a transformational coach, a celebrant, a death doula, and as you said you’re a breathwork facilitator as well. 

So this is an incredible array of skills and practices that you have. But if we jump back to about twelve years ago when we first met we were both very different people back then. We definitely weren’t the meditating type of people at all.

Lucy: Totally. 

So, back in the London days when we were both working in film and just surviving in London, I would say I used to party very hard. I still have that in me but it’s so funny you say twelve years. It’s like, “Oh my god. 12 years!” That’s ah a long time.

Minka: Yes, exactly a really long time ago.

But it’s interesting that you bring up the partying because I feel like that’s something that maybe you and I were both using hard partying as a way to process perhaps a lot of what we were feeling at the time. 

After a really big week of not really knowing how to process those feelings and emotions that had been coming up for us during the week, we would go out and get really drunk and stay out all night and party. And somehow use that as a way of releasing. But obviously, that wasn’t necessarily the most effective way.

Lucy: Totally. 

This whole journey for me, if you want to call it a journey, has been about rediscovering who I really am. I would put it that way. So it’s all of these parts of my personality and ways of being, which I don’t regret at all. I think it’s part of the path. 

But I think what I used to do a lot was not understand my emotions and not understand what I truly wanted or how I was truly feeling. So it’s like putting on this mask, particularly with alcohol and partying.

I always thought that I was a huge extrovert and even in those little personality tests like back in the day I would always come out as an extrovert because of what I would put down. Actually now I feel like I’m a huge introvert. That’s part of even meditation, like getting to know your inner world which I had no idea about. Nothing.

Minka: Yeah, exactly. 

So how did that meditation journey start for you and when did you start going on that path?

Lucy: It’s when I was I moved to New York. 

I moved to New York in 2018 and I was what they call a high-level fundraiser (for a charity). The term ‘high level’ is awful but I was fundraising in New York City, which was some of the best times of my life. I absolutely loved it. 

This was 2018 and with that, the pressure of New York came and this desire to just chill out a bit. I mean, relax. I had so much anxiety and I was partying a lot. New York truly is the city that never sleeps.

I found this little studio… I always thought meditation was a kind of religious thing or faith-based based thing and actually, I found this little studio called Mindful, which is MNDFL. So, it was this trendy little studio in Williamsburg where I was living. 

There was a couple of them dotted about New York (all now closed) and they were giving meditation classes. You could either sit for 30 minutes or 45 minutes. A friend told me about it, so I went along, started doing the odd little meditation and kind of fell in love with it. 

I mean at first, it was extremely difficult. But that little half an hour that I was giving myself, away from the madness of New York and the energy of New York. I ended up meeting more and more people. I started going more. They had one of those memberships where you could try and come every single day and then you paid less.

So, I was doing that and then it really just grew from there. I started doing my own meditation practice and then they opened a meditation teacher training six-month intensive. 

I never went into wanting to become a meditation teacher. I didn’t think I would do that. It was more to deepen my own practice and that was really the start of the ‘serious meditation’ if you put it that way.

Minka: That’s so interesting. 

How to start meditating - circle CREDIT Lucy Cargill

So, before New York, before 2018, this wasn’t something that was on your radar as a tool? 

This wasn’t something that was a focus for you. It just came at a time when you suddenly realized that you needed to do something different to kind of process things.

Lucy: Totally. 

I wasn’t aware of it, not that I can remember. It’s difficult for me to remember but I wasn’t aware of it at all. Relaxing for me was always like going to the pub, just doing more stuff like filling my life, being so busy and being kind of addicted to the busy and doing constantly.

Actually, when I first started meditating I found it incredibly difficult because sitting just doing nothing and trying to calm your mind is really difficult and I’d be coming out from work and being like, “Oh, I can’t.” Your mind’s going and you think that you can’t do it. 

But yeah before that it was never something that really was part of my life. There are little bits that I realise now from when I was a child that where, whatever you want to call it… “spiritual,” depends on the words, the terminology you want to use.

But I always carried this bag of “specials” around which were little trinkets that I’d caught and I used to kind of. I was preying on them and I had them since I was little. I took them through my teenage years to every single exam. If I ever got on a flight (I used to be terrified of flying) and I’ve carried them with me my entire life.

I know now that I’m deep into this. That they’re little tools, like little extra tools and not slightly different from meditation. But these little spiritual tools that were like, “Oh yeah.” Cause I think as kids you kind of have a bit more of a trip of understanding of what’s going on in the world.

Minka: Exactly, yeah because it’s so interesting because I very much never saw myself as the meditating kind of person. I just thought it was all this hippie stuff. Do you know what I mean?

Lucy: Yes.

Minka: I would never be able to access that. I wasn’t even the kind of person that could access that, even though there’s always been a little bit of a hippie in me, but it wasn’t it was something that… people who did it seemed a lot more, simultaneously grounded and then off on some other realm as well and I was like, “Oh no I’m far too in the present for this,” or whatever things I used to make up for myself.

Then it was during the pandemic and I’d just come… a year previously I’d just come out of a 10-year relationship and I’d gone through a lot of tumultuous change. Then but it was during the pandemic that I actually had it normalized to me as a daily practice by one of my housemates who was just during the pandemic just meditating for like 10/15/20 minutes in the sunshine in our garden. I was seeing that normalized to me in an everyday kind of way. Like, “Oh this is something that you can do.” 

I suddenly found myself after a couple of months just sitting down and being like, “Okay hello feelings. Okay, we’re just gonna do this now. I’m gonna see what comes up.” For me at first, it was sitting with my feelings and just trying to listen to myself so that I could somehow ride the waves of all these emotions and energy and events that were happening both to everyone in the world but then also to me personally. Try and feel my way through it.

That’s how I somehow ended up doing a daily journaling and meditation practice over the last, what couple of years now? I think I just saw on Insight Timer that I’ve just passed five hundred days of meditation that I’ve done, and I was like, “Oh my god! This is incredible,” because this is not where I thought this was going you know at all.

Lucy: Congratulations because five hundred days is totally impressive. 

I think (I don’t know how you feel but) the more you do it the more it does genuinely become a habit and it’s… I can’t imagine my life without it. I meditate in the morning and if I don’t, my day is not set up as I would like it to be set up. Generally, you know?

Minka: What were some of the barriers that you found originally that stopped you from being able to have that daily meditation practice? 

What did you find getting in your way from doing that?

Lucy: I’m laughing because I’m like all of them all of the barriers. 

So I think a couple of big ones come to me. Resistance to the fact that I don’t have enough time, particularly when I was in New York at the beginning. It was like, “I don’t have enough time to do this.”

Again, what I realized now is because I didn’t understand the value in it so it was like, “I don’t have enough time to do this. I’ve got work to do. I should be doing something else that’s a lot more important than this.” Like I said before, I was completely addicted to being busy and so it’s like, “I’m very busy and important. I don’t have time to sit down with myself. You know I’ve got things to do.”

I think the frustration that I wasn’t doing it right. That would come up as well. The physical pain and sitting cross-legged as I started to push out of like, “This is painful.” I couldn’t even sit for 10 minutes and then the frustration comes up that you’re not doing it right. So it’s like, mean talk to yourself and you know that.

We all have that little voice that can come up and say that “You’re not doing it properly. So what’s the point? I can’t do this. I can’t meditate.” Yeah, it was crazy.

Comparisonison also came into this, particularly because I learned in a little studio with shared out experience after. There’d be people saying like, “I see colours.” It’d be like a little half an hour meditation. “I see colours and all this amazing magical cosmic downloads.” I was like, “I saw fuck all and I couldn’t even cross my leg.”

Minka: laughs

Lucy: It’s really painful and people are saying, “It’s just peace and serenity,” and I was like, “I’m squirming and it’s awful. Yeah I don’t feel like that.” 

So, all of these things.

Minka: That’s something that I definitely feel. It’s that at first, it is a really difficult thing to do. It’s only in time, given regular practice, that your body’s able to actually reach that kind of calmer state because you’re doing it every day. Whereas at first, it’s a huge struggle. 

So if you’re out there and you’re thinking about trying meditation, be aware that it takes a bit of a while to get into it and to not have that imposter syndrome and to actually enjoy it. 

I’ve heard people say that for the first couple of weeks that they did it, they couldn’t turn off that internal brain running. That they would be running through their list of how are they going to refurb their kitchen or what they needed to do. 

I mean like that those kinds of things happen. It just takes time and regular practice to then like quieten that down and be able to focus on your breath.

Lucy: Totally yeah and just to add to that it never becomes easy I don’t think. There’s days I’ll sit down to meditate and there’s days. Ah, the whole, however long, 45 minutes have gone. I’m like, “Oh my god I just thought about this one thing that’s been playing on my mind.” 

I think that’s a real trap people fall into that it has to be completely zen all the time. It evolves constantly. Also the part about being uncomfortable. Because I learned in a studio, it was slightly different for me because everyone was cross-legged and I learned with quite experienced meditators so that’s where the comparison thing came in.

But actually sit on a chair. I’ve been teaching my dad how to meditate and he’s got two bad knees and he can’t sit cross-legged. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it. He’s been sitting in a chair and being comfortable. You can even lie down.

So it’s just all these little things to not beat yourself up if it feels not great the first little while.

Minka: Yeah, exactly. There’s not one way to do meditation. You don’t have to somehow fit this type at all. That it’s all about finding your comfort and finding your relaxation point and being able to find that peace, for however long.

I think this is the other thing is that in my brain I always was like, “Oh people do this for like an hour a day or something like that.” and it’s like it’s really hard to set that regular practice up. It’s really about finding… start with five minutes. Try and find those five minutes and try and then build towards 10 and build it up. 

But also, if you can only do 10 minutes a day, being able to do those 10 minutes a day makes a huge difference.

Lucy: Totally. 

That’s if anyone was starting meditating, that’s exactly what I would say. Start with five minutes and that might feel like a lifetime anyway because you’re just starting. 

Everyone has different pressures and focuses and there’s certain times of day that you can’t do. Just start. There’s also something about the commitment to yourself if you say, “I’m going to carve out this five minutes to myself,” and then following through on that. It really builds trust in yourself that you’re following through on your own habits. Then start to build it if it feels good.


There’s also something about the commitment to yourself if you say, “I’m going to carve out this five minutes to myself,” and then following through on that.

It really builds trust in yourself that you’re following through on your own habits.


Minka: Yeah, absolutely.

So, beforehand I mentioned that I use Insight Timer, which is an app for meditation. I also journal.

So what kind of tools do you use as part of your daily practice?

Lucy: Insight Timer is a wonderful resource. I still return to Insight Timer because it’s free and there are thousands of free meditations on there. It’s really easy to get started meditating. You can search sleep and manifestation or visualization wherever you want.

The only thing about it for beginners is I think it can be a little overwhelming because there’s so much on there, so there’s a huge amount. A nice way to do it is to search for “5-minute meditations” if you want to be guided.

The other thing is you can just sit for five minutes and count your breath. It’s a really nice way to do it. See if you can count in for five, out for five and focus on your breath for five minutes. 

That’s self-leading and but there are countless ways to meditate. There’s mantra-based, there’s visualizations, there’s movement based, there’s meditations across all different faiths and religions and non-secular. I’ve tried lots of different kinds and I would say the easiest way to start meditating is by focusing on your breath.

Then you can move into the more kind of visualizations or other ones that might be might be a bit different. So if leading yourself is too daunting at first you can download Insight Timer. 

Another amazing app is Waking Up by Sam Harris. It’s brilliant. He’s an American neuroscientist and philosopher. They’ve got this amazing beginners course and they do daily insights where he puts a new meditation up daily. He only does it for 10 minutes or 20 minutes and it’s new every day. He’s absolutely brilliant and I still use that one as well. Now it is it appears quite expensive because it’s I think it’s $99 a year.

Minka: Right.

Lucy: But the wonderful thing about it is Sam Harris desperately wants it to be easy access, so there is a way you can get it for free if you genuinely can’t afford it. He doesn’t want money to be a barrier so that’s another one to really think about. It’s based in ancient teachings but it’s very very secular and simple. It’s mindfulness essentially.

Minka: How incredible.

How to start meditating - sunrise CREDIT Lucy Cargill

Do you do anything else as part of your practice in the morning? Are there some other tools? 

So as I said I find journaling really good before I meditate because I get to acknowledge how I’m feeling and where my head’s at and all of that instead of like sitting there and letting myself think about all of it. I’m writing it down and I find that really helps doing little things like that. 

So is there anything else that you build as part of your practice as a daily each day?

Lucy: Yeah again I’m laughing because I am now very big into ritual. So my alter at home – it might sound a bit woo woo but my alter at home is huge. I’ve got all my stuff on it and meditating in front of things that mean something to me helps me connect. 

So whether it be crystals or statues or pictures of deities or pictures of friends and family past and present, jewellery, or mala beadsI’m very big into that sort of stuff.

Also, I often do this right now if I’m in nature. So it’s okay, but like taking little bits from nature if you’re stuck in the city, and it’s nice to know that you’re sort of connected with nature because for me the process of meditation is about like really just getting back to oneness. We’re all part of the same stuff.

Really and also I have lots of oracle decks and tarot decks and all the rest of it. I journal as well but what I would say is that can feel… I mean here’s me, in India which is a deeply spiritual place and there’s dream catchers everywhere. 

So that’s very easy for me to say right now because what I would say is you don’t need any of that stuff like that. All being said, you can easily strip it all back. So it’s whatever means something to you. 

I would say invest in a good cushion if you want to properly sit on what you’re sitting on.

So, a little crying baby…

Minka: Yes, there is like some a little bubba letting out their feelings in the background right now.

Lucy: Yeah, I also do chanting and which is fairly new to me. I’ve learned that since I’ve been out in India and so chanting to clear different bits of chakras. But again this is getting into it. It sounds a bit more woo woo whereas you don’t need all this stuff. It’s stuff that I’m going off experimenting with just now.

Minka: Yeah, and also the thing that I really love about it is that it becomes a tool that you can use. 

I do a morning practice as well. I used to do a mid-morning practice so you can do your meditation at the end of the day, you can do it before bedtime. Some people really love doing it as a way to wind down at the end of the day. But it’s also become a tool that I can use when something crops up during the day as well.

So say, for example, earlier this morning I had a call that was a very emotional call and I came off that call and I was just like, “Oh okay I’ve got all these feelings coming up right now and I know I’m not going to be able to settle my nervous system.” So, I sat down and I meditated for a good few minutes. That really helped as a way of sitting with that, feeling where my nervous system was so activated. Afterward to bring it down and then I was like, “Oh I’m so thankful that I have this tool that I can use.”

I’m just gonna pause for a second. 

(break)

So we’re just resuming after a little break so to let the little girl cry. 

Anyway, I wanted to ask you Lucy as it’s the start of 2023 do you have any particular goals for your practices? Where is your practice leading you?

Lucy: Such a great question. Because I’m out in India for another couple of months, I’m playing with the idea of doing some tantra stuff so more couple-based things. Meditating is a hugely powerful tool that. Me and my partner are thinking about doing a tantra course here. It’s based in Buddhist practices. Meditation can be amazing for couple’s work. 

Interestingly, I’ve just set up my own Insight Timer as a teacher. I set it up two weeks ago. I haven’t actually posted anything yet but I am going to be offering meditations.

I already hold circles and do some lunar cycle circles, New Moon circles, and things like that. But I want to start offering more meditations with everything that I’ve learned, so watch this space for that.

Minka: Yes, incredible, wonderful!

If people want to find you on Insight Timer and if they’re already on there or they’re just joining how could they find you on there?

Lucy: Yeah, I don’t know yet. It’ll be under my name as Lucy Cargill.

Minka: I will find the link and we’ll pop it into the notes.

Also generally where can people find you online? You’ve got a website?

Lucy: Yes, I’ve got a website, which is my name lucycargill.com and you can get in touch with me through there and on Instagram.

As Bronwyn, said I’m a celebrant as well as a coach so that’s generally where you can find me if you’re interested in any of those services.

And actually, on the celebrant thing, I’ve been approached to do a wedding in August this year and this is so interesting to me. The reason I’m bringing this in now is because they would like me to bring meditation and spaceholding into the ceremony which has never really happened before.

Minka: Wow, that’s incredible.

Lucy: Breathwork meditation and holding space for the different groups and the wedding parties as they move into the ceremony itself which will be really cool. 

I’ve done a couple of funerals this year and my practice just so helped with keeping me… I lost a very dear friend at the end of last year and I did to his funeral and just being able to meditate beforehand and actually during, focusing on my breath. There’s this like box breathing technique when things just get a bit much like you said and has just been invaluable. 

Minka: That’s incredible.

If people want to find you on Instagram it’s @lucy_cargill, isn’t that right?

Lucy: Yeah

Minka: Perfect and there’ll be links to all of this everywhere on the blog and also on Instagram and Youtube. 

So wonderful, thank you so much, Lucy. I really really love being able to have this conversation with you.

And yeah, if anyone’s out there and they’re thinking about trying meditating this year we really really recommend like just trying to start it as a daily practice and seeing what it can bring to your life. 

Lucy: Yeah, absolutely, it’s invaluable. 

Thank you, darling. Love you.

Minka: Bye beautiful.

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