Spirituality

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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so it begins

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of my annual “spiritual cleanse.”  This year I’ll be reading a book by Lauren Winner: Mudhouse Sabbath.  I don’t really know anything about it, so fortunately, I don’t have any preconceived notions.  As previously mentioned in this space, I find it interesting that for the last 3+ weekends I have been purging and purging all the extra *stuff* in the apartment.  (Plus some serious organizing.)  It wasn’t until Monday when I realized that I have also just done a major overhaul of our finances and we’ve made a few big decisions, financially speaking.  And all of this has finally come to rest — pointedly on the week of the beginning of Lent.  It’s as if I was preparing for something without even knowing it.  Since my physical house and financial house are now in order, it only makes sense to have my personal body/mind go through a similar process.

This year I’m not going to set myself up for failure and set a goal of going vegan or something so extreme, but rather I will continue with my regular Lenten vow (no milk) and I want to try to incorporate other things too… but without a rigid set of rules.  I just want to be open, clear, focused, and present for the next 46 days.  We’ll just have to see what comes…

[my other Lenten book review]

A Pilgrimage of Change

This is my last week at work. And it seems that I’ve been reduced to an emotional cripple as I continue to have emotional outbursts at random moments throughout the day. You might think I’m completely hormonal as I have ecstatic highs and then seemingly without a trigger begin to cry.

I guess I haven’t begun to process it all yet. I have hardly written in my own journal and I certainly haven’t had time to craft a thing. I’m not only preparing for my vocational transition, but I am also going on a spiritual pilgrimage if you will.

My husband and I are leaving Saturday for England with six high school youths from our church. We are truly a hodgepodge group as we journey together, each coming from a different place, wanting to achieve a different goal, but alas, all arriving at the same place. Together, but differently. We will walk about 40 miles of the old Pilgrim’s Way, or Canterbury Trail. We will stay in hostels and churches and even an old barn. The week will culminate with our (hopeful) attendance of a session or two of the Lambeth Conference. This is a once every 10 year U.N. meeting of bishops from around the world. Pretty cool if you’re into the whole Anglican/Episcopal thing. I’ve said it before, but for myself, it’s like going home to the mothership.

I’m too tired and too contemplative to put it all into words. The logistics of packing snacks for 9 people, training my replacement at work and preparing my house for my house-sitter have overridden my ability to put my thoughts into a linear structure. And all of that coupled with the fact that end a three year commitment on Friday and begin a new career the day after our return … crazy.

I’ll have time to think about it all one day. Right now I need to finish packing and go to bed.

(photo courtesy of Destination 360)