Meditation starts. Breathe in, one.
Breathe out, two, three, four.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. I should have taken out pork chops from the freezer.
Oh, no, no, no. Attention on my breath. In, one. Out, two, three, four. In…I wonder if Henry finished his homework last night. I should have checked. Oh, well…in, out. I’m going to do a longer yoga practice today. I feel I need it. Have I left the laundry in the washer? I must call my mom. Peaky Blinders shocked me, yet again, last night. Shit. Breathe in. Breathe out.
And so it goes on! I manage to focus. My mind wanders. I refocus. My mind finds a way to stray again. I don’t even realize it and the chime sounds the end of meditation. Or my failure to meditate.
Can you relate? Unless you’re a meditation master, I’m sure you can (or I hope I’m not the only one!)
Have you given up meditating many times, just like me?
It just doesn’t work. Does it? You can only practice mindfulness in a more dynamic setting? Running, walking, or moving through a vinyasa flow?
Believe me! I tried to meditate regularly many, many times over the last decade.
Drum roll! Announcement: While my meditation looks like what I’ve described above, I’m thrilled to announce that as of this morning, I’ve successfully meditated 42 times in a row. Or, to be precise, I’ve successfully shown up in my meditation corner.
At the beginning of September, I committed to sticking with it for 66 days. And here is why:
1. Magic happens when I meditate
When I looked back at 2020 (yeah, I know who would even want to look back at this poor excuse for a year, but bear with me, please), I realized that in the midst of all the craziness out there, I had two periods during the lockdown when I coped better. Upon further journey down the memory line – not so difficult given that the experiences were somewhat limited to the four walls of our house – I realized that in both circumstances, I meditated. Early April, I tried to (and marginally succeeded) to listen to Tamara Levitt at Calm. And later in June, I joined an online group to follow one of Deepak Chopra’s challenges.
And clearly, based on a very thoroughly superficial retrospective analysis of my feelings and actions, just showing up matters.
2. Expectations obscure the real benefit
I initially declared both experiences a failure (as many of my previous attempts) because I never achieved a state of enlightenment. I didn’t manage to calm my mind. What happened was really nothing. Nothing. I expected something to happen right there during the meditation. And since nothing happened, I didn’t see the point to continue. Only now do I realize that it’s beyond the meditation mat, where something happens. I smile more, I’m kinder, I’m more thoughtful, I’m at peace, I stay in a moment when life gets tough. I’m mindful.
3. Meditation is a daily practice of kindness
Accepting that during the actual ten minutes (I don’t manage more yet) of meditation, my mind seems to come alive in an unprecedented manner, has been hard. Mindfulness doesn’t mean that our mind should enjoy a rollercoaster ride after all, does it? Oops, here I’m projecting expectations again. I can’t fully accept my wandering mind, but I leave my meditation corner without frustration. I treat that time, however imperfect, with kindness. And again, the attitude spills over to other areas of my life.
Dear non-meditators, as an avid half-ass practitioner of meditation, I encourage you to try it. To make a commitment (I’ll let you know if 66 days is the right length to create a habit) and stick with it. Because as Rick Fields said:
The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.
P.S. Are you meditating? What is your experience? Leave a comment.