Starting this meditation month I had a lot of rules and a lot of expectations. In order to be “successful” in the challenge, I thought things were going to have to go a certain way. Yes, having a strict first couple of days was helpful to get me into a routine but over the past month I have experienced how expansive the practice is without the usual tight grip of control. It didn’t matter that in my tiny apartment I share my meditation corner with the vacuum cleaner. I got to be OK with the fact that some days I was going to fall asleep. I didn’t judge myself for meditating at 11pm rather than first thing.
Instead of focusing my attention on controlling my practice, it gently and quite naturally shifted towards the actual work I was doing. Witnessing this shift showed me how accessible my meditation practice is and always has been. Yes, there will be times that I don’t sit for a couple days; I don’t think I can expect an unbroken daily practice forever. But when I do slip away, I know how easy it is to return. I can follow my breath, I can recite a phrase of lovingkindness. I knew this going into this challenge but it really hit home this past month. It has been liberating: knowing that at any moment, no matter what, I can come back.
Just for fun, here is a little recap of how these past four weeks have gone:
Week 1: Figured out what my personal practice currently looks like. Let my body and brain adjust to sitting daily. Had some crazy dreams. Received good news about a personal accomplishment that reminded me of my faith in this practice.
Week 2: Had a lot of anxiety for what the meditation might bring up. Found that it wasn’t all that bad. Fooled myself that doing a body scan in bed at 6:30am was meditation (Zzzz). Met with a teacher who helped me uncover a whole new level of body and breath awareness (perfect timing).
Week 3: Had trouble bringing up emotion in my sits but had a lot of it in my daily life. Enjoyed listening to Sharon’s guided meditation. Investigated emotions on the fly (on subway, at work, waiting in line). Used the techniques to manage stressful situations at work.
Week 4: Used A LOT of lovingkindess to help with feelings of self-doubt. Accepted how my practice looks, not comparing it to others. Gained confidence in maintaining a daily practice after this month. Had more crazy dreams. Got sick and used my intuition to heal through relaxation, nourishing food, and gentle asana instead of ignoring it.
This challenge has been a great experience. I am proud of myself for sticking with it. It hit every part of the spectrum from painful to exhilarating and I am so grateful to Sharon Salzberg and BYS for providing the space for us to share our experience. So many doors have been opened and I hope we keep exploring long after tomorrow.