Meditation: Day One (and why you should meditate)

Here's my plan for the week, taken from this article, How to Meditate: Six Methods That Can Get Anyone Meditating

  1. Basic Breath Meditation
  2. Guided Meditation Practice
  3. Focused Intention
  4. Binaural Beats
  5. Chakra Balancing
  6. OM Meditation
  7. Your Choice

Day One: For a while, I wasn't sure I'd meditate at all. Then, late afternoon, something kind of clicked and I just went and did it. I set the timer on the stove for 15 minutes and the time went quickly. I didn't have too much trouble keeping my mind empty, but focusing on breathing seemed difficult. At one point I thought, "Man, breathing is hard." 

Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in south St. Louis was very pretty when I walked there today.

Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in south St. Louis was very pretty when I walked there today.

I used a deep breathing technique I learned in an Art of Living workshop I took in college. It's just deep breathing, filling your lungs from the bottom up and emptying them from the bottom up. I guess we meditated in that workshop, but what I remember benefiting from afterward was a breathing routine they taught us, that we were supposed to do every day. I did it for a while; I'm not sure why I stopped. 

I did most of the meditation sitting cross-legged on the floor, on the cushion from my desk chair. Toward the end I laid on the floor in the corpse pose, which is the only yoga position I really like.

Note to self: remove cats from room before attempting meditation. Cats do not understand meditation and are rather distracting with their claws and drool. 

Do I feel any different? Maybe a little calmer. It's hard to tell, but it's also only day one. 

Benefits of Meditation

Even the Mayo clinic recommends it. Meditation is known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and bring you back to the present. It may even improve your immune system. 

But it takes practice. Everyone seems to agree that you get the most out of it when you do it regularly. I believe that, because I find it to be true of any stress-relieving activity, including exercise. 

For years, after college and throughout my twenties, I did something called "morning pages," three pages of longhand journaling, first thing in the morning. The idea comes from Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. I recently tried to start writing morning pages again, but I did it sporadically and it wasn't very effective. When they work, though, morning pages have a similar effect to meditation, but through a very different process. Instead of working to keep your mind clear, you empty it onto the page. For me at least, once the worries and concerns are in writing, I can stop thinking about them. 

What I Hope to Gain from Meditation

I suppose I'm looking for something to replace morning pages, preferably something that doesn't take 30 minutes and doesn't have to be done first thing in the morning. Meditation could work. I've read that once you get good at meditation, you can do it anywhere. 

I don't spend a lot of time worrying; I've worked on that over the years. I am pretty good at living in the moment. But I still carry around stress, and I have a difficult time moving away emotionally from traumatic experiences. For example, our dog got into a fight with another dog yesterday morning. She's fine now, but it was super stressful at the time. And it took me all day to get over it. I was still upset about it when I went to bed last night. I'm okay today, but I'd like to improve my responses to stressful situations. 

Is it too much to ask for meditation to make me a little less neurotic? Probably if I only give it seven days. 

Maybe by the end of the week, I'll have a form of meditation I like enough to continue doing it in the following weeks. I hope so, anyhow. 

Week Nine: Mental Health - Meditation

  1. Day One - Basic Breath Meditation (and why you should meditate)
  2. Day Two - Guided Meditation Practice
  3. Focused Intention & Binaural Beats
  4. Chakra Balancing & OM Meditation
  5. Day Seven - Binaural Part 2