5 Days of Meditation...My Observations
While I often suggest meditation to my clients and readers, I admit that I don't do it myself. Well, not the sit-down silent kind. My practice usually takes place in the kitchen, while I chop veggies, or in the living room, as I sit to play Life, my son's favorite board game. I work to be present as often as possible, and I stop to take deep breaths throughout the day. But that changed this week. I'm working with a client who is dealing with a number of stressful situations in her life. Sometimes we have no control over the circumstances life line-drives right to us. What we DO have control over is how we handle those situations and the stress they create.
Meditation is one practice that's been shown to reduce stress, illness, and create contentment.
So, I said to my client, isn't that worth ten minutes a day?
That's it. That's all I challenged her to do. Start her day with ten minutes of meditation. And I sent her these tips for beginners, too.
Naturally, I wanted to be supportive. I also realized this would be a good experience for me. It had been years since I meditated and the last time I tried, I failed. Miserably. I couldn't keep my thoughts from traveling over hill and yonder to the laundry pile, my unbalanced checkbook, or the lesson plan that failed miserably that week.
Time to try again, and this is what I found...
Day 1: Meditation a little easier than I thought...at first. For the first few minutes, I was able to focus pretty well. The second half of the ten minutes was more challenging, as my thoughts did wander. But I gently guided myself back, as I'd read to do. I was doing the meditation in my bed, while propped up against the wall with pillows. Was very comfortable. Found it a great way to wake up.
Day 2: Today I tried repeating an affirmation during the meditation, but observed something really interesting. I would say something like...I am beautiful...but my mind would start doing things like saying, "well, except for that pimple you have on your chin" or "you might be once you brush you hair". It did the same when I repeated "My life is amazing". Darn gremlins! Clearly, I have more growth to do with myself, but I already knew that. So then I tried just, "ommmm" and found that to be much better. Senseless vibrations good.
Day 3: Today I lit a (non-toxic) candle and focused on the flame. I really like this! The flame was beautiful, and I'd watch the wax bubble up, or the reflection of the flame sway in the melted wax every time I exhaled. I could also hear the morning crickets and the birds. Reminded me of the meditating I do when I am hiking. It was much easier to bring my mind back with the flame. Think I'll probably keep the candle as often as possible.
Day 4: Today was my only day in a long while to sleep in a bit, so I chose to use my ten minutes doing that. I think it was worth it. I felt very refreshed. So I practiced my ten minutes before bed. I found that I am getting better being more in the moment, and I LOVE hearing the crickets. Toward the end of the ten minutes, however, I am done. I hope one day I can practice for a bit longer.
Day 5: My meditation took place outside today. I biked through quiet country roads, and stopped by the reservoir. It was there that I sat and just enjoyed the silence. I found it much easier to be silent and in the moment in that kind of setting, than at home. Probably because at home you have all those mental reminders within arm's reach. More of a challenge to stay present.
So what did I learn?
First, that it's super important to be comfortable while meditating. You get to choose what that is. If you're sitting up, keep a pillow propped against your lower back, like this.
Don't be afraid to change your sitting position. There is no requirement to become a mannequin while meditating, so move at will. Some people like to connect index finger to thumb as a way to form a circuit of energy within the body.
If that's uncomfortable, simply put your hands on your lap, or down on your sides. No rules.
I learned that meditation is, indeed, a practice, so I need to keep doing it to get better.
Most importantly, I learned that meditation makes a HUGE difference in my attitude. Starting my day this way didn't make my days perfect, but it made them all perfectly acceptable. I'm in a much better place to handle where I need to be when I've spent some time being exactly where I am.