My meditation practice has been on—and off—for years. Let’s face it, mostly off. Recently, I treated myself to a month away from the office, and you know what, I felt “out of sorts” upon my return. I just wasn’t into “work,” even though I have a fabulous career. I was in a slump and I needed change. So I created 30-Day Challenges for myself and for anyone who wants to tag along. First up on the plate had to be meditation. No doubt about it. It was time to push it to the top of the list.
I’ve been writing the 30-Day Meditation Challenge for weeks now, and in doing so, I had to take a long hard look at my own meditation practice. What prevents me from meditating on a consistent basis? I’ve found some wonderful apps and teachers – love Headspace. And I’m a graduate of the 9-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, so I have the resources and techniques down. Now that the first-ever Meditation Challenge is wrapping up, I can share three things I learned about my own practice and how I tweaked it.
Well, to be honest, I didn’t really have a set meditation schedule in the first place! I meditated when I found the time and place. And that’s no way to turn meditation into a habit. So this time around, I set up a schedule with an exact time and place. But I’m a realist with a full-time career that often includes travel and deadlines. I simply have to have a back-up plan to cover the days when I can’t (or don’t) meditate before jumping in the car to drive to work. Plus, I needed a personal rule – meditate before 2:00 p.m. I discovered that once mid-afternoon strikes, I lose my willpower and energy and let meditation slide. So I now have a firm plan in place, including back-up options.
Truthfully, I get bored easily. And meditation is repetitive. My guided meditation app is mostly the same thing day after day after day. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be repetitive. It’s for my own good. But I like a change of pace every now and then. I suspect I am not alone in this sentiment. For awhile, I wondered if I had set myself up for failure. After all, I promised to send daily emails that would motivate subscribers to follow through on their meditation session. Thirty days and thirty shiny new emails suddenly sounded like an awful lot! So I went back to my teaching experience. People learn better in chunks. My thirty days of potentially boring emails became ten days of Basics, ten days of Mindfulness, and ten days of Loving Kindness. Each day has a fresh subject. Ultimately, I found my voice and the schemata that kept me from getting bored, and I sure hope my friends on the other end of the emails weren’t bored either.
Once my meditation session was done, it was done. I left my seated position and hurried through my day. But what I remembered most about my MBSR training was the mindfulness activities that brought my meditation to life. So I turned the challenge into a meditation companion sprinkled with all kinds of fun daily activities—even mindful showering—that would heighten my awareness of everyday life. And it gave me something to look forward to each day, as both writer and the reader.
And now that the writing is complete, it gives me great pleasure in delivering the Challenge as a Kindle guide. As I move from topic to topic each month, I am tremendously enjoying the learning process as I research, organize, and write. I’m definitely not bored.