Time to Kick Start My Meditation Practice
I’m going to call myself out here. I started Meditation Mondays two weeks ago because I seriously fell off the meditation wagon. Perversely, the busier and more stressed out I got, the less time I made for meditation. I convinced myself that I didn’t have time and, even if I did, I couldn’t quiet my mind from focusing on my “to do list.”
Despite my hope that Meditation Mondays would make me accountable, I skipped last Monday. It was the 4th of July and the third day of a three-day weekend, which I spent out in the woods doing next to nothing. Being a bit of a workaholic (okay, I am a full-fledged workaholic) I actually found it difficult to be unemployed that long. My discomfort made me realize something: my workaholic life is unbalanced and unhealthy. I need meditation to teach me how to center myself.
I’ve read 100 times in 100 different places that it only takes a few minutes a day to meditate. No more than 10 minutes a day will give you a benefit. So, who has 10 minutes to sit still doing nothing? Let’s be honest here: I do. I started meditating after my surgery, when disability provided lots of time to look within and I really benefited from it. My life has moved away from the stresses of cancer treatment. But with the stresses of family, home, work and survivorship, I let my meditation practice slip away. Every time I think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to sit and meditate and find my center,” I let my unraveling fringes convince me otherwise. The truth is, I can find time to do what is important to me - and this is important.
The simple fact is that the antidote to unraveling is peace – and meditation provides peace like nothing else. When I was a kid, whenever we asked our mother what she wanted for her birthday, Christmas, or whatever, she always answered, “Peace and quiet.” She told me I’d understand someday and now I do, because that’s all I want too. The only way I’ve found to get peace is to give myself the gift of meditation. And, it's been well reported that meditation provides all kinds of other benefits too, such as increased memory, cognition and creativity.
I started my meditation practice with the help of a book, 8 Minute Meditation - Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life, by Victor Davich. (Amazon Associates link.) It’s a “modern approach” to meditation, teaching eight separate meditation techniques over an eight week period, in just eight minutes a day. It’s meant to jumpstart a practice, not define it. I completed the program and was doing well with my meditation, but I eventually fell out of the habit.
I returned to the first week’s practice this morning – “Watching Your Breath.” It’s the most basic form of meditation. I’m paraphrasing it below to give you an idea, but for the full benefit you really should use the book as a guide. I promise you won’t regret it:
- Find a comfortable position, upright, but not tense.
- Set your timer to eight minutes.
- Close your eyes.
- Notice your breath, if forced, let it relax.
- Allow, allow, allow. No need to figure anything out, just let thoughts float by.
- Continue to follow the breath, in and out. Whenever you leave the breath to follow a thought, and you will, just return to it and try again.
To this day, because of yoga and meditation, I find myself involuntarily taking a deep breath whenever I feel stressed. I’m going to make the time and, hopefully, meditation will reward me with the peace and quiet. Once again, Mom was so right.
I plan to start each new program on Monday mornings. I’ll let you know how it’s working. I’d be thrilled to have company, so please let me know if you’re giving it a try. Let’s find peace together.