So far, so good with Kathy Freston. I’m taking the book slowly, so I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m impressing myself with my ability to “lean”. Who knew I could do it?! Last week I committed to a very reasonable, non-obsessive 5 min/day meditation regimen. Although after a few days I had to fight the impulse to make it into a bigger deal (“What difference could 5 minutes possibly make? If I’m going to do this, shouldn’t I just go ahead and DO it? I mean who meditates five minutes a day?!”), I resisted the impulse and instead of giving the whole thing up on day four because I just couldn’t find thirty minutes to devote to sitting quietly with myself, I made it for an entire week. Baby steps. Ok, maybe the baby steps people are onto something.
Meditation is something I’ve tried in the past, so the experience this time around wasn’t entirely new. It was still far from easy. Actually, clearing my mind is a real struggle. Given that struggle is really the opposite of what a person who has made the decision to try meditation really wants, I’ve had to develop a new way of thinking about meditation. One thing I’ve found to be quite helpful is to approach meditation with a spirit of allowing. I’m sure I read this somewhere, but I can’t remember where. What works for me is to hold an image in my mind while I’m focusing on my breath. For whatever reason, the image that comes to my mind is that of a huge, sprawling tree. Below that tree is a brown lab puppy (again, I have no idea about the WHY of these things) wearing a red collar. When thoughts enter my mind the puppy wakes up and begins to bark at the birds that sit in the tree. Instead of getting upset or anxious that I’m thinking when I’m supposed to be NOT thinking, I just laugh at the puppy. It’s just being itself and getting distracted and that’s ok. I allow it. Somehow this allowing seems to bring me back to myself and the puppy and my thoughts settle down again. I would imagine that different things work for different people, but so far I’ve found this visual image to be helpful.
Anyone else try their hand at meditation last week? If you did, I would love to hear how it went. The goods and the bads and what (if anything) you feel you got from the practice. Chime in in the comments section. It’s fun 😉
For the upcoming week I’m going to play with Visualization. I should tell you before I go any further that when The Secret got to be such a big deal a few years ago, I took an entire class period in my Experimental Methods class to rip the book to shreds. This makes it hard for me to disclose an interest in visualization at this point, but hey, this is an adventure, right?! If you are wondering what I’m talking about, here’s how Kathy describes it:
“Visualization helps you rejigger the way you see thing so that you can respond to life differently; it takes apart old images and replaces them with new and better ones. With these new images in place, you will begin to think differently, and as you think and behave differently, people will change the way they respond to you.”
I’m not sure what “rejigger” means, but the rest of that makes sense to me. It is true that our brains don’t seem to be able to distinguish between an actual physical experience and a memory or thought of that experience. Both may give rise to physical changes such as increased heart rate, changes in breathing patterns, release of stress hormones, etc. So……. if this is the case, why not present our mind with images of what we want in our lives? Why not take some time each day to focus on actively visualizing where we want our lives to go? Couldn’t hurt, right? Well, that’s what I’m thinking and that’s what I’m going to do this week. Seven days of visualization. It should be a blast. Oh and pass the Kool-Aid would ya? Thanks 😉