Okay, honestly time. I didn’t do nearly so well this month as last.
It seems odd, because last month involved active thought for thirty minutes and this one involved doing nothing for about five (I started very small). Somehow, though, it was harder to get myself to meditate. I think it’s because I was able to see tangible progress in my writing, but results of meditation are ambiguous. I’m very accomplishment-oriented, so it was harder for me to keep going if I didn’t feel I was getting anything done (which just goes to show how much I need some meditation.)
I didn’t abandon the challenge entirely, though. I only really missed three days, and aside from that I spent at least five and up to fifteen minutes meditating daily. I did a simple sitting meditation where I focused on my breath. Each time my thoughts wandered, I would bring my focus back to that.
I found right away that this is a lot more difficult than it sounds. I knew I was scatterbrained, but I didn’t realize how much so until I saw that I couldn’t focus for more than three breaths. I grappled immediately for something else to think about or immediately moved to planning my next task of the day. I was tensing physically with the strain of repressing my thoughts, which isn’t the point at all.
The purpose of meditation as I’m doing it isn’t to control the thoughts, but to get yourself to a quiet mental space where you can observe those thoughts without judgement. To help me with this, I used an app called Simple Habit, recommended to me by my friend Bethany.
The app itself is free and has tons of guided meditations, one minute and up, on a variety of topics. Most of them require a paid premium membership, but I managed to find a few free series that helped me. The app shows you how many days in a row you’ve meditated and allows you do do challenges with friends to keep your streak. I’ll definitely use this or something similar in the future. It’s just one more force helping me to maintain focus.
I spent very little time researching meditation this month, but I think I had plenty of information to start with. I learned a few basic postures and some general ideas for first meditations, as well as the benefits of regular meditation, which I think will be very important for me.
While I haven’t seen any crazy changes in my life since starting meditation, I have noticed that I catch myself in certain thought processes, like going immediately to my phone in moments of boredom, or wanting to zone out in class, or drifting during conversations. I’ve realized how quickly I forget things, especially when I spend more time on social media. It also makes me miss out sometimes. When I’m constantly thinking about the future or the past, I miss what’s right in front of me. This is especially upsetting when I think of the relationships of all kinds that I could miss out on by being ruled by my flitting mind.
This awareness is huge, I think, and enough to make me want to continue my practice and go deeper, even if it didn’t quite happen this month. It’s scary to think of my mind being out of my control, and I want to do whatever I can to avoid that.
Now for next month’s challenge:
Stretching. I’m always neglecting stretching and I pay the price for it during my runs and anytime I have to stand for a while. I have some back problems, and regular stretching is essential for me to feel my best. The less I stretch, the more difficulty I have running and the more pain I feel in everyday activities. On top of that, I’m taking acting and dance classes this semester, and it’s important that I’m able to move easily and that I have a decent amount of flexibility.
I hope to develop a stretching sequence that works for me, further my flexibility, and reduce my back pain.
So, here I go, month three!