Health

Is a “Meditation Challenge” an Oxymoron?

Meditation Photo

For the month of June I’ve given myself a new challenge: meditation.  I know it’s apparently all the rage these days, but it was last fall when my therapist recommended that I try it.  Well I did…sort of.  I was only practicing it very sporadically and at weird times.  Needless to say it felt forced and like me trying to put ice on a pulled muscle rather than a preemptive conditioning for my muscles.  Thus a proactive approach to my self-care has emerged.

Because meditation is hard, I thought I would build up my tolerance.  So starting on June 1st, I meditated for 1 minute; and on June 2nd, 2 minutes.  You see a pattern emerging.  So today is June 20 and I’ll meditate for 20 minutes tonight before I hit the sack.  Sitting for 30 minutes seems much more doable now because I know I can do 20 minutes.

I’ve learned 2 things since I’ve begun.  First, I can actually sit and calm my mind, but it does indeed take practice and it’s (still) hard.  Second, I do a lot better when meditating at night. I’ve tried at all times and places (hello bathroom, couch, floor, kitchen).  But “success” has come to me when I turn out the lights, turn on the twinkle lights (or light a candle), sit on the floor (with a block) or on the Eames ottoman and cross my legs.  In order to help get me calm I use an app — which I really like for background sounds and the fact that it has a really gentle alarm that lets you know when you’ve achieved your desired time.

I’ve really enjoyed my practice so far. But I think I would also like to try this “progressing” meditation while syncing up with my cycle.  That way when when I hit day 30-ish full of cramps, bloating, rage, and other general PMS, I’ll be able to get centered and tackle the introspective beast that sometimes threatens to eat me alive.

And I found this great infographic showing the benefits of mindful meditation.  And here is the full Time article and a response in The Huffington Post.

Meditation Infographic

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on eating well

Ever since February I’ve had a bit of a shift in my eating habits.  After the binge that is the holiday season and a semester of classes that interfered with my exercise I reluctantly got on the scale and just about melted when I saw what number was looking back at me.  I know it’s not just about a number, but I had noticed that even my “cookie pants” were quite tight.  I even started realizing that I wasn’t wearing certain items in my closet because a.) they looked terrible and b.) they weren’t fitting!  Frustration and shock started to set in.  It had to change — and right then.  OK, so maybe it wasn’t a total lightening strike moment, but it was a wake-up call.

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relaxing in china

While I have been dreaming of ways to relax (and continuing my wanderlust), my thoughts traveled all the way back to 2008 when I visited China.  One of the most unforgettable experiences was our glorious hotel.  It was the perfect refuge after 22 hours of flying and especially on day 3 when jet lag attacked my stomach.  As I adjusted to the time change I spent a lot of time wandering the halls enamored by the beautiful interior design.  I also enjoyed relaxing in the many lounges while my Uncle tended to business.  The staff was impeccable and the food was delicious.  BUT — the best part was the I-N-S-A-N-E, 3-hour spa treatment my Aunt and I each indulged in around day 7.  It was called the Empress Imperial Jade Journey.  And the journey of a lifetime it was.  Everything in the world stopped for those three hours.  The entire red army could have been surrounding me in that suite staring at my naked body and I couldn’t have cared less!!!  And my tiny, little, Asian-lady masseuse with hands as strong as crocodile jaws was the most perfect hostess.  I could literally write a novel on the entire experience — which included a belly massage and culminated with Himalayan “dust” being lightly powdered over my body with feathers…  Oh my!  If you are ever in Beijing… believe me, it’s worth it to stay at The Shangri La!

   

[all photos are mine, except for the last one: courtesy of Shangri-La]