October 1, 2008

Afterthoughts On The 30 Day Meditation Challenge

I'd like to start off by saying I'm actually not surprised that I've made it through 30 days of meditation, since I was very determined. As I have experienced some of the benefits of meditation earlier this year I guess it was easier to really commit. However, it has been challenging considering the conditions under which the sessions took place: increased noise level, screaming kids - need I say more?

In order to get a clear picture of the progress I've made I'll paint a scene from my early days of practice (from about 2 years ago).

The Early Days
I sit down in the full lotus posture, how I ever managed that is now a vague memory. Within just a few seconds of this I convert to the half lotus and so on until eventually I'm seated on a chair. With my timer handy and set for 25 or 30 minutes I begin by taking a few deep breaths (the incorrect way) and continue focusing on the natural flow of my breathing. Soon I notice an itch that starts off subtle and so I'm able to ignore it. Seconds later I've moved my focus from the breath to meditating on the itch. My urge to scratch this itch multiplies and so I give in to it, finding some sweet relief. Back to focusing on the breath, within a few minutes I'm thinking about a number of random things and in between calculating the number of minutes left before my timer goes berserk. Sitting still was possible, but sitting quietly still in my head was near to impossible. In between these rampant thoughts I hear the ticking clock and find myself in a state of boredom. Eventually getting so deep into my thoughts the timer goes off and I almost jump out of my chair, that timer was about the only seemingly involuntary thing that took place. A few days of this was enough for me to make excuses not to bother with even the thought of meditation.

Present Day Experience
I'm happy to say I am having a completely different experience now, it's almost as if I was just writing about someone else. Now that I've put more practice into deep breathing (properly) it's a lot easier to relax. I don't practice seated meditation unless I want to, I prefer lying down on the bed or sofa. My thoughts fade away easily and in a sense my mind feels loosened. I don't plan my meditations anymore and no longer use a timer which only makes me focus more on the concept of time. I often intend to meditate for 10 or 15 minutes but I allow myself to meditate for as long as comfortable. With that said I have had days where I just simply could not focus but those are to be expected, especially as a beginner. In the past I did try too hard and put in more effort. I realise now that meditation is something that requires the least amount of effort. In fact, the basic practice of meditation requires you do nothing which is probably the most difficult task anyone can do because just attempting to do nothing you are doing something. I think that's where the whole focus on the breath or other focused attention comes into play. It ever so slowly but surely guides us into a space of nothingness through which everything is endlessly flowing.

My goals for meditation have changed in that I don't meditate just to astral project or reap it's benefits. I realise that it's one of many tools to help exercise the spiritual muscles and a gateway to the dynamic states of consciousness we have access to.

The 30 Day Meditation has served it's purpose, I feel a lot more peaceful than I had before I started and it also helped as a reminder of my original intention to meditate everyday. I like being in that calm state of mind where I have no worries and nothing to hamper about. Once again it is my intention to meditate everyday with a relaxed approach. I know that with more practice I can only get better at this.

Reach Deep Levels of Meditation

No comments: