Saturday 18th November 2017

Archives for Monday 6th November 2017

Meditation. Yay or Nay. #LifeThisWeek.43/52. 2017.121.

Meditation. Yay or Nay. #LifeThisWeek.43/52. 2017.121.

Yay for Meditation from me.

But, over time meditation has changed (me) for the better and I will outline why.

Before we go there, I want to clear up some misconceptions about meditation.

It is not:

  • where you turn off all your thoughts (impossible)
  • a session where you ‘chant’ or repeat a mantra (unless you choose to)
  • something you need a special time and place for (although you might find that helps you)
  • a magical panacea to life’s stressors ( if only!)
  • something to be done occasionally if you want to gain from it (i.e. missing days/weeks/months) 
  • is not always a cost to you (there are some programs I have used at the end of the post)

My brief history as a meditator.

I began formal (i.e. making myself sit in one place, with my eyes closed for 10 minutes) meditations shortly after enjoying and noting the benefits from a half-day course here at the local Buddhist Centre. I wrote about it here too on the blog back in 2015. I think I confused the two words: mindfulness and meditation as being one. They can be joined for sure but mindfulness can be practised in all kinds of settings whereas meditation tends to be in a quieter space often alone. Some meditations occur in  group setting such as the course I went to and on-line but for me, I have only ever meditated alone. More about what I got up to in the early days here.

I started with headspace via their app and did the first 10 sessions for free. I was IN. I then paid for the next stages and that has gone on now for a continuous time. I pay around $75 USD for annual membership.

This gives me the access to so many different topics all based on coming back to the breath and letting your brain note and let get has been worth it. I often repeat a group of sessions. Some are 30 sessions, others 10. I pick my time I want to meditate from 10mins, 15 mins to 20 mins. Right now, I am doing a work-based session called Productivity and it is 10 sessions for my choice of 10 minutes.

“But Denyse, you don’t work anymore says you”….true but I sure know I am liable to be distracted and wander off to do tasks and then get somewhat overwhelmed if I do not have them more organised. So, it is helping me with gentle guidance in a life skill.

So far here are the stats of my meditations history. I am not sure it is entirely accurate as I did have an account double and my date may not have transferred…but what the heck, it gives me a bit of a boost to see how I am going.

Total time meditated
191 hours

Sessions completed
924 sessions

Current run streak
35 days

Last time meditated
17 hours ago

This is reminding me that I have yet to meditate today (Saturday afternoon as I write, so I will be back!) I am back.

Where I meditate and why.

My default behaviour is rule-keeper. That means for me, starting as a meditator I made a special place within my bedroom where I had some items like a candle I would light, a high backed chair with cushion making sure my feet could touch the ground and of course, no interruptions. I also had a special time for it and reminder via my phone. I relaxed that somewhat this year and just have it as a general reminder. My iphone as the app for Headspace and each day it would be ready with the next session I had chosen.

As time went on, and we moved house, I did not have a set place or space devoted to meditation anymore other than not to be disturbed. I now meditate (often) outside in a comfy chair with my back supported and feet up on a seat. I sometimes meditate lying on a bed in my art room. I have meditated in bed at night if I have not done so in the day and I have meditated in my car (parked!) on some occasions.

It has made no difference to me how or where I meditate even though I did think in 2015 I had to do it ‘right’ to get the benefitsWhat I now know is the only doing it right is to actually do it! I have missed a day here and there (and I did not meditate in hospital because of the constant interruptions) and I feel the difference not doing it. I thought it would cure me of my anxiety and IBS and it hasn’t. But what it has done is made me more aware of not getting too carried away with my thoughts and to bring myself back to the breath. Not only via meditation but anywhere. My husband does a walking meditation too.

My breath is my anchor.

But what about mindfulness? 

For me, mindfulness is something I need to attend to more each day. And generally I do. I am more mindful because I notice things and look around me often. I feel the touch of where I am sitting and when driving the car. I smell the smells and inhale the good and pleasant ones as great memories. Of course I eat mindfully MORE now as I literally have to take great care eating and do not want to choke! I also listen more attentively to nature. The bird song here is just wonderful.

So, mindfulness + meditation is about attending to the session I guess. However, in my case, the founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe really just asks that we pay attention to the breath, and to let passing thoughts come and go..noting them but not getting caught up in them.

I have tried and still check out three other meditation apps/sites. Here is Smiling Mind which is Australian-based and used in schools now too. This one is called Calm. This is one on my phone too and is free. It’s Insight Timer.  Sometimes I do a meditation from my favourites Pema Chodron, Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield on their CDs. I have one more to add. Comedian and writer, Ruby Wax has had many episodes of depression and it was only through meditation and mindfulness practices with some of the best Dr Mark Williams at Oxford that her health improved. She has now done a Masters there and produced a great book called Frazzled. I have listened to the audio version and she does a great job helping guide people as first time meditators.

I hope that you have found some of this helpful. Please ask me any questions in the comments. I am always happy to share and help.

How about you, are you for Meditation or not?

Denyse.

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