I’ve been actively meditating daily for a several years now. I used to think that the point of meditation was just to quiet my mind, but I've discovered it’s so much more. Of course it quiets the mind, it helps with chronic pains, it helps you sleep better and be more at peace. What I didn’t quite expect was the presence of mind and profound joy that I now have access to.
It all started when I accepted a 90 challenge from my massage therapist to meditate for two minutes every day twice a day and to keep a journal about it. The instructions were to create a nice quiet place to do it. She recommended I set the scene for my own best experience. She also said that although there are great soundtracks to meditate to, there’s nothing like silence. I was to sit upright, not close my eyes, just lower them to a soft gaze, and a soft focus on my breath as the center of my awareness. Breathe naturally, and if I had difficulty with that, simply count to four on the out breath in cycles. Be gentle with myself. If I noticed my mind wandering towards my concerns of rehashing the past, simply notice them, invite them to leave, shrug them off and refocus my awareness on my breath.
Like with most things, I wanted to try it my way, so for the first few days I tried doing all 4 minutes all at once. I noticed that 4 minutes was longer than I thought. I spent more time getting comfortable than getting quiet. When the noises outside wasn’t interrupting, the silence was so loud it was practically deafening. I tried lying down with my eyes closed, and without fail, I fell asleep. I added music in to help me stay awake, that did help wake me up when the soundtrack ended. I tried slowing my breath down which made me sleep sooner, and speeding it up made me dizzy. I was getting frustrated for having so many thoughts interrupt a good thing. After being defiant to all the recommendations and losing 2 weeks of precious time, I gave in to doing it as designed. I started over. Imagine my surprise when it worked!
I've found that I could sit and watch the thoughts go by without judging myself or the thoughts. Keeping my eyes slightly open kept me aware of where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling. I hadn’t felt so in my body until then. I felt grounded, a little more solid, almost as if I had gathered more matter into my very being. I felt immovable except by my own will. I imagine it’s what Superman might feel like. I felt like I had super powers and I could withstand any windstorm or deluge. When I stood up my movements were so intentional. I was directing my form and it was listening. I was off autopilot mode and it seemed for the first time that I had to make my body move. I can hardly explain the magic of taking a shower. Not only did I discover the sensation of water, and the feel of my own hands on my body, but also just how much on autopilot I was that I was missing out on these simple pleasures every day. My conversations stayed on topic. Fewer tangential conversations were popping up and even when they did sway, I was so present that I was always able to bring it back in check, easily and effortlessly. I started to see mishaps as just events and I felt myself discovering and learning so much more than i ever had from simple things. Then I discovered labeling (see Rose-Colored Glasses blog). What an extraordinary combination!
After a few weeks, my massage therapist said I could close my eyes and sit for as long as I felt worked for me. I watch the colors behind my eyes dance with and without the changing light in the room. I even had the experience of becoming the light. Soon thereafter, I started noticing my breath not as air, but as a flow of energy around my body. I started noticing that I could better feel where I was holding tension in my body and I could release it by creating a path for the energy with my mind. No flexing required. I realized that I could actively direct this energy around my body and I could make it dance. It was actually fun! I started noticing that thoughts that I used to shoo away like flies around a horse were no longer even coming up! Who knew that was possible?! Apparently my massage therapist did.
After the 90 days I was less scattered in my thoughts and activities. I was experiencing a daily calmness that was so phenomenal I just kept going. For the next few months, I started experimenting with intentionally adding a drop of emotion like joy, cheer, giddiness, love, honor, forgiveness, abundance etc. and I noticed that they each had a distinct flow around my body. Several years later, I’m still at it, just for the fun of it. I no longer take the simplest of experiences for granted, not only as a matter of choice, but a matter of being. I feel like I’m really finally experiencing life, and it’s getting richer and richer every day.
A thought swung by my mind that it could be that I'm still not doing it right. I’m so okay with that. I'm really calm yet energized when I let my mind play in this way. I'm clear that what I'm poised to learn next is how else to use this energy masterfully. I'll keep you posted.
Do you have a meditation practice? Will you take on at least a 2 minutes a day twice a day (morning and evening) challenge for 7 day? If you’re going to do it, follow the instructions!