First things first: for some strange reason I haven’t totally figured out yet, this Meditation Challenge has been in some ways the most difficult one for me. You would think that only wearing six items of clothing for a month, or figuring a way to give something every single day would be much more challenging. And often, the actual practicalities of those projects were. But meditating every day has proven to be harder than I thought.
I’ll admit right up front that there have been about three days so far (I’m almost halfway through the project) where I have just flat-out forgotten to do my meditation. Maybe I need to set a reminder for myself, or maybe I need to discipline it further to have a set time, every day, at which I meditate. I avoided doing that when I started this, figuring that I would have different things going and scheduled on different days, and it would be too restricting to try and meditate at the same time every day. But maybe that’s what I need to do to make it a habit, and more of my daily routine.
Most days, though, I have done a meditation for 15 to 20 minutes, and I have discovered a few things. First of all, I suspect this may be true for most people, but it takes me at least the first five minutes, and often closer to ten, to even begin to clear my mind of all the distractions and things that clamor for its attention all day. I find myself thinking of all kinds of little things, my mind pinging around, and have to consciously let each of those thoughts go and settle back into focusing on my breathing. The first week, I meditated to just soothing music; but then I tried some guided meditations and found that those worked better for me. Somehow, having a voice to listen to and direct me into the meditation made it easier to concentrate on that, instead of my own thoughts. 5-10 minutes of guided meditation followed by 10-15 minutes of meditation on my own, with just soothing music or nature sounds, seems to be my perfect combination.
On the positive side, I have noticed that I have been sleeping better. I often have sleep problems; not always, but most weeks about 1-2 nights I have issues with waking up in the middle of the night, around 3 or 4 am. Since I’ve started this Meditation Challenge, there has only been one night I have done this. I’m not ready to attribute it to the meditation just yet; it’s far too early for that. But if my sleep is better for the entire month, I will certainly give a lot of weight to meditation’s effect on that.