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Building Willpower – Meditation Challenge Day 15

Day 15 of the 30 Day Meditation Challenge. The rhythm and process of meditating is getting easier. With consistency applied to any endeavor, this usually happens. I’ve had several situations where it was rather difficult to actually sit still for 20 minutes, but I managed and after sitting for a minute, it was totally fine. Here were a few of the more challenging scenarios:

  • Staying up way too late on St. Patty’s Day, and then having to come home and meditate late at night (well, very early morning technically!)
  • Waking up a little late, and having to sit for 20 minutes to meditate, while worrying about being late for an important work meeting (I made it on time)
  • Eating way to much for dinner late in the evening, and having to sit for an uncomfortable meditation
  • Having crazy bad allergies where my nose was literally dripping like a faucet, but sitting still nonetheless (probably the single most challenging meditation session of my life!!!)
  • Being incredibly tired after a long day at a work offsite and not much sleep, but sitting for meditation anyway
  • Struggling to find a quiet spot while visiting family (with a small child calling out my name every now and then!)

Ultimately, the point of meditation isn’t to do it only when convenient. In all the above scenarios, there were no dire consequences, and the discomfort in every case was my own fault (except for the allergies…and there even, I should have gotten the right medicine in time).

One of the insights I’ve been tuning into is that there are a whole bunch of things that are having no effect on me or just having a lighter effect on me. These relate to things people do, say or their actions that can be frustrating or irritating. They are just having less of an impact. This also relates to stressful situations (having a big presentation, meeting, or other nerve-wracking situation) – they are having a lesser impact on me. I don’t know why this is happening but it is. Also, I am having a MUCH easier time concentrating on creative tasks (writing papers/presentations, reading, etc.). If you do any kind of creative work, you need to start meditating….just watch what it does to you!

Meditation Separates the “I” from the “Not I”
With consistent meditation, the “Not I” has no chance!

The way I see it, meditation allows one to see things as distinct from who you really are. It’s like a big giant wedge that you can drive into your own being, to separate away all the things that are not you. My simple doodle explains it.

This is important, because I believe that anything truly not wanted in life (pain, fear, stress, etc.) comes from outside of who you really are. If you identify with your true being, the negative emotions cannot exist (even if the situations or actions that caused them still do).

Will also plays a big part. If you imagine a big metal stake and you want to drive it into the earth, you need some force behind it or it will not do any good. You need to press on it really hard, this is the force of will. For me, will is needed just to sit still for 20 minutes. You’d be amazed at how challenging it is just to sit for 20 minutes and listen to your own breath – with no fidgeting or other movement! It is infinitely challenging.

If you think you are a badass Ironman triathlete, corporate executive or some other “rock star,” let me tell you – this is far more of a challenge than any of that stuff. I swam across Puget Sound a few years ago (hopped off a ferry at Bainbridge Island and swam to West Seattle), that was a challenge, but this is really tough. I know people who would not think twice about lacing up their shoes and going for a tough 20 mile run, but they refuse to sit still (call it meditation or whatever you want) for 20-30 minutes on a regular basis. If you consider yourself a motivated type-A personality…..your probably need a steady meditation practice badly. Try it and then let me know if you decide to take up the challenge.

Anyway, I digress….some days I feel like I hitting the wedge really well and making some progress but many days I am just pushing and pushing but not super focused. In fact, on several occasions last week, I just sat there, completely unable to focus…but sit I did! My mind kept wandering….and in some cases I would open my eyes and fidget a little before closing. In either case, in focused meditation or not, I’m training the “muscle” I call “willpower” and over time this will muscle will help me bring about the change that is required when the time and setting is right (namely, when I am well-rested and eating well…which is when I have the most pleasant experiences with meditation!). With strong well and consistent meditation, the “Not I” has no chance.