Image: Blizzard Entertainment via icy-veins.com
As I shared at the beginning of this year, I am conducting a series of 2-week self-experiments. In the first, Address Book Lottery, I connected to others. In Experiment Number 2 I have turned the focus inward.
The Experiment: Meditate once each day for 2 weeks.
Hypothesis: Daily meditation will reduce stress, improve mood, broaden perspective.
Equipment: Calm smartphone app, YouTube videos, a floor.
Following is a description of my meditation experience through present tense narrative, reflective analysis, poetry, and poop jokes. You’ve been warned.
Day 1, 10am Ok, here we go. Day 1, this is gonna be great. Headphones in, firing up the app, music is calm… Whoa, super-loud voice, too loud!
Turning down volume, that’s better, here we go. My back hurts, I never sit this straight, my foot is tingling, the poodle jumped in my lap. Focus, focus. Breathe in, breathe out.
I’ve had my eyes closed for a while. what if I were blind? Is it inappropriate to think about being blind – or to write about it? Breathe in, breathe out, in, out. I have a LOT to get done today,… this is boring… did I fall asleep? Breath in, breathe ou – wait, it’s over?
Observation: Mid-morning is distracting – too much activity. Maybe I should shift to an earlier time, and then try a little harder to “just let the thoughts pass by like clouds” tomorrow. Wait, is trying harder bad? I’m getting confused already.
Day 2, 6am. Alright, Day 2, this is gonna be great. Here’s the poodle again, hi buddy, no problem. He’s licking my fingers. I just showered, what could he possibly be licking? It’s ok, relax, breathe in, breathe out. Did I hear someone on the stairs? Did they just laugh at my puppy-and-me meditation?
Day 3, 5pm. I just couldn’t get it done today. I felt exhausted and like a failure for not even completing three sessions in a row. I attempted again at 9pm in the high school parking lot, which felt public, dark, and awkward.
Day 4, 7am. This morning I moved to our basement laundry room for quiet and privacy. I did not prepare for the cold.
Laundry Room Meditation Haiku
Smells of dirty socks,
Toes freezing, frostbite likely,
Solution is clear.
Day 5, 6am. Ok, today I’m ready for high-quality meditation. I got up early, took a shower, walked and fed the dogs, and secured a comfortable spot in the living room. Here we go!
Literally. There was dog poop on the floor right next to me. How did I not smell it?!? I cleaned up, sat back down, then heard a series of dings. Oh boy – 6 text message from work – I better call to sort this out. After clearing up that issue I tried to meditate again, but the magic was gone.
Day 6, 6pm. I attempted a 5-minute session while waiting in the high school parking lot, but my daughter got out early and interrupted the session 3 minutes in. Tranquility is hard.
Day 7, 8am. During this session I had a really, really great idea – a “million dollar idea” – that I completely forgot by the end of the session. Sorry, heirs.
Day 8, 2pm, Taking the meditation experiment on the road, I brought by zen to Juneau, Alaska. I attempted using a random YouTube meditation. It was terrible, but it did include this philosophical gem: “Your ears are made for hearing.”
Day 9, 6pm, After a full day of work in Juneau, I got settled at the airport preparing to meditate before the trip home. There were lots of distractions – announcements, people nearby talking. Wait – those people were in my workshop today. Should I say hello and talk to them? I was exhausted and dressed like a 90s teenager, so I did not go over and tried to avoid eye contact. I refocused on my breath, and then… “Welcome to Flight 66 to Seattle…”
Day 10, 9am, Today I tried ambient sounds only (no guide) for 15 minutes, and it felt pretty great. I had visions of outer space in the midst of the session, which helps me with perspective. Today’s list of tasks feels less daunting when compared to our eventual demise from a supernova.
Observation: Over the last couple days I noticed how the Hawthorne Effect is affecting me. One the first things I think about during meditation is writing these post-session reflections, which obviously must alter the results. Time to kiss that honorary Ph.D. goodbye.
Day 11, 9am. I was very distracted today, so I started counting my breaths from 1 to 10, and then started again. Once I hit 43 before realizing I’d forgotten to start over. Counting is hard.
Day 12, N/A. I literally forgot.
Day 13, 9am. Today I was joined by Otis, the feline master of our domain. He entered the room wailing the sound of painful death. He was not dying, but rather hungry or bored or he noticed I was sitting on his favorite piece of carpet.
Day 14, 5pm. I had a little epiphany while thinking about the past 2 weeks. Alongside purposeful meditation, I’ve found myself pausing more often – sometimes only for a few seconds – throughout the day. This evening I approached a traffic signal changing from green to yellow to red, and instead of cursing my bad luck, I welcomed the 90-second break in the day. A red light meditation.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, joseph140178