I have had a meditation practice in the past. But it has been a long time since I stuck with it. One of my goals this year is to get back into meditation. But so far this year I have failed to get that habit started. There is always some excuse: I’m running late, I slept in, I’m just too busy to just sit and do nothing for ten minutes. So I am going to blog my attempt to meditate, each day for the next 21 days right here. My intention is to get to a ten minute meditation practice being a part of my daily life. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I will record the challenges, the obstacles, and the rewards as they come up. (I also know that the embarrassment of having to blog that I have skipped a day should be very motivating!) So let’s see how I do. Indeed, I challenge you to give this a try along with me, and see what the results of meditating for the next 21 days can turn into. Let’s begin. (Well, tomorrow.)
6 minutes. Woke up with a sore back, which I knew would make sitting uncomfortable. So I started with some yoga to loosen up. That helped. The sitting meditation itself did not go that great! I had thought that the main challenge to getting a meditation practice going would be over coming an initial boredom. Like, “gee it’s boring just sitting here doing nothing.” But the opposite was true! I couldn’t get my mind to shut off, it seemed I had more ideas, more thoughts about stuff I wanted to try than usual. Or is my brain always that noisy? It was the longest 6 minutes ever.
I’ve heard that when you start to get serious about meditation that’s when your mind will start inventing obstacles. Because your mind doesn’t like change! Boy, did those obstacles kick in today, and it’s only day 2. First of all I can’t remember the last time my alarm went off and the feeling of remaining in bed and not bothering to get up felt so delicious! I wanted to lay in bed all day, not even sleeping, just laying there. So after a few minutes ( Okay more like 20) I rolled out and did some stretches then sat down to Om.
This is where things got annoying. It was like I had been dipped in itching powder. I had a tickle on my nose, an itch on my scalp, a twinge on my toe. My fingers are getting twitchy just thinking about it! It’s weird, because I don’t think I am any more , uh, “itchy” than the average joe. But all of a sudden my mind was inventing a brand new emergency itch-a-minute. Only when I forced myself to ignore a particularly tempting scratch on the knee for a full minute did this feeling subside and was able to focus on breath for a few seconds. I probably was only doing what could properly be considered mediation for about 2 seconds. Not bad for my second day! At this rate i’ll be up to a minute of real meditation in just a few months!
Today happens to be my birthday. I’m 38, good gravy! Birthdays always make you think about how many, many, many, years you have been around. But after this morning’s meditation I realized maybe I haven’t been really alive as many years as I thought. Confused? Let me explain. The whole point of meditating for six minutes is to try to live only in the present for six minutes. It sounds easy, but when you try it you find that you spend a great deal of that six minutes not living in the present. Instead you are thinking of stuff you have to do, or want to do: the future. Or thinking about the past. We actually spend very little time living in the present. (One exception is when you are doing something you are fully engaged in.) I bet during six minutes of meditation I am only present in the moment for a minute or two. And that’s when I am actively trying to live in the moment! How much more of day to day life passes us by while we dwell in the past or the future? That means I have only being awake/aware/alert for about a third of my life. Which means I am about twelve and a half in Zen years. Yeah, that sounds about right.
I’ll be honest, I’ve got a whomping hangover this morning. Because sake + karaoke = me doing Lou Reed covers. Ouch. But, I am proud to say I still did my morning meditation practice. Spending time just being present and aware is not my usual hangover remedy. Frankly I did not feel very zen but that doesn’t matter. What matters is showing up to practice, especially when you don’t want to. So, in a weird way I feel like todays session was a success.
Normally I wake up and then do meditation first thing, still in my pajamas. Today I tried something different and drank some coffee and took care of some tasks and emails that I needed to get done in a hurry. Then I sat down for meditation at noon. It didn’t work very well at all, because my mind was already busy juggling all the cares and objectives of the day. So, morning meditation is best.
Well, I guess it was inevitable. I had a downright bad meditation session today! I know, I am supposed to be more zen about it, and say something like “there is no good or bad meditation, there is just meditation”. Well, sure, but I exclusively meditated on . . . tacos. It’s embarrassing.
This new (muy sabrosa) taco place opened up nearby my house recently. And right before I sat down to meditate I thought “maybe I’ll just go get some tacos for lunch.” Then I sat down, I chanted OM. I cleared the thoughts from my mind, and quieted my heart . . . and the image of a delicious carnitas taco appeared! Argh! Go away taco, not now! Seriously.
I tried again, and again. The fourth or fifth time the thought of a delicious taco with a squeeze of lime and cilantro floated up into my mind’s eye I actually cracked up and started laughing. Good thing I wasn’t meditating in a dojo around others. Sigh. Well, I tell you, it was a long six minutes. I’m going to go feed the hungry ghost now. I guess this is why Buddhists are vegetarian.