I’m finding that my meditation practice is as important as any work out. I wanted to share my thoughts about it and what some of what it’s doing for me. First, thank you to @leobabauta, a member of fitocracy.com for posting an excellent article on how to meditate: http://zenhabits.net/meditate/
I have made a gentle practice of this, starting for 2 minutes a day. On Tuesday, 5/1. I hit my second straight week. At that point I doubled the amount of time I spend in meditation from 2 minutes to 4 minutes. I will work incrementally till I get to the 15 minute mark. The point right now for me is to build up a good habit of this.
I’ve not delved in deeply about the MANY vast meditation techniques, but am trying to go by instinct and a small bit about what I’ve read. The closest thing I can relate to about “what” this is, is that it derives from a zen form of mindfulness meditation. I say derives from because for my crude level of understanding, what I do is as close to what I understand mindfulness meditation to be.
The practice is fairly simple. I sit cross legged and give soft focus to the floor in front of me. I give focus to the carpet pattern or beige rug depending on where I am meditating and start to become mindful of the creaks of the house, the birds outside, the cars starting or pulling in, footsteps outside, people talking, whatever sounds that are happening at the time. I focus on the inhale and exhale of breath. When I catch myself thinking about what I’m going to do 5 or 10 minutes or 2 hours or 3 days from then, I try and draw attention back to the sounds outside and inside, breath, what my body feels at the time. I try and relax into myself, feel the totality of the body, the inside of myself, my toes to head to hands to heart. This is a lofty goal for 2, 4 or 10 minutes but this is the practice. I guess I could call it “presence practice” as well.
There are some interesting similarities to exercise but there are some vast differences. The similarities for this or any thing else we want to become proficient at are consistency to build up a good habit, practice to become skillful, and endurance to practice of a sustained amount of time. However, unlike other things that we do, sports, learning a skill or craft, martial arts, there is nothing to actually “do”. The emphasis is to in fact “not do”. It is simply to be and accept. The simplicity of the practice is also it’s most profound.
There are some interesting things I find are happening even now as it’s only been 2 and a half weeks in. I am trying to not be as multitasking at work. I am focusing on one task at a time. My business problems will still be there to solve whether I answer a question within 15 minutes or 2 hours. If there is an emergency then someone will call me. So I focus at the task at hand.
I just completed a 5 century work out today. I was happy to see my progress. A “century” is 100 reps, and I broke that up into the following 5 sets: 20 kneeling pushups, 20 sit ups, 20 kettlebell/bodyweight squats, 20 kettlebell curls, and 20 kettlebell swings. I would rest 2 / 3 minutes between sets and continue, moving each exercise up in position and dropping the first one of the last set to the last position.
What I found myself focusing on during the last sets was not the 18 or 15 more exercises I had to do after I finished the one I currently was on, but the one I had to do NOW. The others would have their chance to be done but they could not be done until I got the one done now. I was surprised at how effective that was. Those would wait for me when I got there, they weren’t going anywhere, but I didn’t have to worry myself if I was going to finish the 18th, 19th or 20th. I just had to worry about the one right in front of me.
I’m grateful that I’ve started this practice. I am happy to see that even in such a short time incremental change is happening in my life. We strive for progress, not perfection and I can make the choice to be happy right now.
Mastugatsu agatsu katsuhayabi – True victory is victory over one’s self, right here right now! – O Sensei Ueshiba Morehei