Tuesday, July 5, 2011

40 Days of Yoga: Week Two Recap

This week's theme is "vitality," and if I have any problem it is too much vitality and energy. How else can I explain my complete inability to sit down, be still, and silently focus on meditating?

It sounds simple enough. Sit, relax, breathe. Try clearing your mind of all cluttering thoughts and just be present in the moment. Yes, you -- I am asking all readers to take a minute to sit and try to clear your mind of all thoughts.

Easier said than done, right?

When I first signed on to this 40 days of yoga experience, I did not know that meditation was part of the deal. I was tempted to skip this aspect altogether, but I decided that even if I was wary of meditation I should give it a try. After all, I was initially skeptical of yoga and I am quite happy that I have given it a shot even after repeated bad experiences.

So I resolved to sit down each morning and evening to meditate. Week one was not so bad. Each meditation session was just five minutes, and when I found myself a bit distracted or frustrated it was easy to endure for such a short period, especially when I assumed that improvement would soon be on its way. Practice makes perfect, and I figured that by day 40 I would be a monk-like pro like these guys:

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Week two arrived and with it came ten-minute meditation sessions. It was not getting easier, and I did not feel I was improving. Trying to turn my mind from distracting thoughts toward my breath and the moment became a frustrating, losing battle. I came to dread the meditation sessions and found excuses to skip them: too tired, not enough time, too distracted. My latest excuse is that I need to learn how to get better at this meditation thing before giving it a try again. Lame.

Like anyone looking for a quick fix, I Googled tips for meditation. I learned a couple of things. First, this is really hard stuff. Evidently I am not the only human being with thousands of things running around in my head making meditation difficult. Most of us will not sit down, close our eyes, and immediately find ourselves levitating in a state of nirvana. Second, meditation might go better and I might enjoy it more if I stop being so rigid with rules and hard on myself. I am guilty of sometimes letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Rather than exploring meditation and continuing to give it a shot, I have been quick to declare that I am a failure and "just not good at this." Hm, could it be that perfection, "success," and "doing it right" are not the whole point of this meditation thing?

In week three I am going to give meditation another shot. I do not know if it will get any easier (odds are it will not), but I do know that am resolved to trying it even if it is difficult. That is part of why I keep calling this a 40-day yoga challenge -- it is demanding, challenging, hard work. Change always is.

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