Saturday, November 20, 2010

30 day challenge: meditation

I just finished up a 30 day challenge of spending 15 minutes a day meditating. I tried everything from traditional posture to sitting outside to lying on the ground. I experimented with keeping my eyes open vs. shut, breathing, counting and listening. My favorite was cat meditation, which is when you meditate with a cat lying on you, kind of like this:

Emmy and me

There’s something about a relaxed cat that really helps me relax too. Cats are zen masters.

Meditating was harder than I thought, in a few ways. First, it was difficult (impossible?) to turn my brain off. I’m accustomed to using my brain all the time, every day. I don’t like to turn my brain off. I definitely struggled with that all month. Someone recommended counting, for example counting leaves on a tree, as a way to help. That worked very well, but it also felt like counting was keeping my mind busy rather than clearing it out.

Also, it was surprisingly hard to carve out the time to do it. I ended up missing about six days altogether, partly because of some travel during the month. I think the fact that it wasn’t my favorite activity also played a role.

But I learned a few things, too. I became much more aware this month of how little irritations can snag your attention and pull you down. A few deep breaths would often help me get some distance from the irritation.

Am I glad that I meditated this month? Absolutely. But for now, I don’t plan to maintain this habit going forward, or at least not every day.

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