Commit2Sit: meditation challenge

Last year, I bought the book Real Happiness by meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg to understand more about the power of meditation and to sit longer and more often. After reading this book once, I have gone back to it over and over, re-reading and highlighting passages that I want to remember and share with others.

Recently, I signed up for The Real Happiness Challenge, a 28-day exploration of the tools of meditation led by Salzberg, with a goal to deepen my practice, sit with a like-minded virtual community, and share my experience.

When the mind is at ease, according to Salzberg, our hearts are open and calm and we can more naturally concentrate. Often I commit to sit and then I am bombarded with sounds, images and questions, threatening to overthrow my practice:

  • The dog is whining: What does she want?
  • What will happen to Midge in the next episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? (don’t tell me, I’m working on season 3)
  • I really don’t want to make dinner tonight
  • I forgot to call my parents
  • That speech isn’t going to write itself

The answer is to begin again. 

Everybody’s mind is out of control. If that were not the case, we wouldn’t need meditation. The key to meditation is to start over again and again. The next time I sit, I will accept distractions as impermanent buzzing creatures that don’t need my attention right now and simply begin again.

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Why I meditate

I meditate to feel better.

For many years, I dabbled in meditation, but didn’t fully understand it. I knew there was a science to meditation; that it reduced anxiety and stress and improved concentration. I tried to meditate to clear the clutter in my head before I sat down to write, but I did so inconsistently. Over time, I took a couple of workshops on meditation. I read books on mindfulness and meditation like “Quiet Mind,” “The Miracle of Mindfulness” and “Uncomfortable with Uncertainty.” I meditated in my yoga practice. I joined my friend for Deepak and Oprah’s free 21-day meditation courses. I used meditation apps like Meditation Timer and Headspace.  I found that there are many scientific and psychological benefits to meditating, but I was curious about how it would make me feel if I would meditate consistently. So, last July I decided to meditate every day using the Headspace app. 

I meditate to calm my mind, build focus, and inspire creativity.

Meditation is a technique to train the mind in awareness; to reach deep quiet, inner peace and joy. I sit on my zafu (meditation cushion) with the intention of sitting. When I sit, I try to let go of everything I have been thinking and doing and just be still and quiet. Sometimes my mind is very busy (also referred to as monkey mind) and I have a hard time trying to quiet it down. Thoughts come in a steady stream and I struggle to let them go. 

There are many times that I meditate lying down, or walking, or at my desk, or sitting in my car at a parking lot. While it’s nice to have a set time and place for meditation, I don’t think it matters where, when, or how long I meditate. As a beginner, the point is that I have made meditation a habit. Meditation gives me the ability to reel in my monkey mind and restore it so I can be awake and present in the moment. Immediately after I meditate, I am inspired to write and reflect about something I’ve heard, read or observed. 

I meditate to explore the inner workings of my mind.

By meditating and practicing mindfulness (awareness), I can go deeper into the work of self examination, uncover hidden truths and see things about myself with greater clarity. I write my thoughts in little notebooks and explore the inner workings of my mind. Sometimes this scares me, but how my mind works is also a wonder to me. Its energy and connectedness to the body is something I want to continue to explore. Both meditation and mindfulness help me along my journey. 

A calm mind takes time to develop. It takes practice, patience, and determination. This is something I have to remind myself of frequently. When life gets challenging, I’ve learned (the hard way) that my mind tries to drag me away from the things I know are helpful and restorative. My determination is the only thing that will bring it back to a state of calm. If I don’t pay attention and practice mindfulness my mind will wander a path of chaos. 

During the past year of consistent meditation practice, I have found greater peace of mind. There is less tension in my body and I can achieve more clarity and focus on my work. I also discovered that I don’t need an app to meditate. I can set a timer for a few minutes, or give myself permission to meditate until the dog barks.

In the end, I meditate because it simply makes me feel good.

What do you think?

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends. Follow me on: FacebookInstagram (@kristinebruneau), or Pinterest.