Every now and then I do challenges to either learn something new or re-commit myself to something I already do – but not enough. They say that 30 days is just enough time to make a habit and from my experience it is long enough to get “over the hump” that usually comes with any kind of change in routine – and actually start to see the benefits.
I have been meditating on and off since late 2003, having learned a technique from John McAffee at the Relational Yoga Mandiram. You can read about one of my fasting and meditation retreats a few years ago. Since that time I maintained a regular twice-a-day meditation routine. 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. On occasion I would sit longer, but this was the typical day.
However, for the past couple years I’ve been slacking. Sometimes I will sit for just five minutes before getting distracted. Sometimes a week would go by without sitting at all! While I do practice yoga regularly (and during 90 minutes I do experience a heightened flow-meditative-state), there is still nothing like sitting still for a few minutes. It is perhaps the most challenging of all aspects of a well-rounded yoga practice.
So, I’m starting a new 30 day challenge. Here it is:
I commit to, starting today and for the next 30 days, meditating twice a day for 20 minutes each. Once in the morning and once in the evening.
I’ll blog about my experience as the days go on. I sat already for my two sessions today. They went by surprising quickly, and my mind was quite still. I’m guessing not all days will be this easy 🙂 . If you have never meditated before, here are a few tips:
Find a spot that is flat and firm, use this spot consistently for all of your sessions. Don’t meditate in a bed or on a cushy couch. If you get cold in the morning wrap yourself in a shawl.
- Try to sit cross-legged, but if your legs and hips are two stiff, fold up a blanket and sit on it, allowing your ankles to rest of the floor with crossed legs. Use as many blankets as you need! If this doesn’t work for you, find a stiff backed chair to use.
- Set an alarm clock for the allotted time. Start with 5 minutes and build up to 20 minutes. Do not open your eyes until the alarm goes off. Resist the urge to peek!
- Find your spine in a position where it’s straight, with natural curvature. Avoid the tendency to slouch. This will just induce sleepiness! Imagine that you are balancing an apple on your head 🙂
- Rest your palms on your knees face down. Alternatively, you can rest your palms one on top of another in your lap.
- Breath in and out through your nose. It doesn’t have to be a loud and audible breathe like they teach in some yoga classes. Just breath normally. Allow your mouth to close and bring the tip of your tongue to the upper palate, and rest it there.
- Continue to notice your breath, if you mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. No matter how many times your mind wanders, keep bringing your awareness back to your breath.
- Try to remain motionless, no matter what! Even if your body tingles or tickles. This is the point, don’t get distracted. You can do pretty much anything for 20 minutes.
That’s it! There are other techniques that people use as part of a meditation practice, but this is the most simple approach. It is highly effective and infinitely challenging. Give it a shot!