August 29, 2013

Mindfulness: 21 Days of Meditation. ~ Catherine Monkman & Dana Gornall

Dana finds that training the mind is no easy task.

Two days ago I decided to pull some weeds. I am not much for yard work, but seeing how the side of my house was beginning to resemble a small jungle, I thought it would be best to attend to it. In our city, any yard trash needs to be disposed of in paper yard waste bags, so I open a fresh bag, grab my gardening gloves and have at it.

About five minutes into my weeding, I get something in my eye. I go in the house to take my contacts out except now I can’t find my glasses. Did I leave them at work?

Work keys in hand, I pop in my car and head over to the office. Lo and behold, my glasses are still lying on the desk. Great! Except now I am hungry. Maybe I will stop and pick up a veggie rice bowl from Chipotle.

I arrive home, veggie bowl in hand and decide that I will eat outside since it is a beautiful day. I bring my dog with me and he and I sit, enjoying the August summer evening, while I chow down on my dinner.

Of course, now my dog wants to go for a walk.

So, I find his leash and we head to the park. It was a lovely evening.

Except it is two days later and this morning, while letting my dog out I see the yard waste bag still sitting beside the house. Oh yea. I was supposed to pull weeds. I feel like the adult version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

So, Cat and I have been working on meditating every day (almost every day) for 21 days as we follow the book Headspace together. Andy points out that being mindful throughout your day is a part of this practice. He shares a story of a monk that becomes frustrated with the monastery he is living in because they practice meditation for eight hours a day.

He feels this is not enough, as another monastery practices for 16 hours a day, and surely this is a much better path to enlightenment. He is set straight by his teacher who shows him that mindfulness in everyday tasks is just as key to enlightenment as time on the cushion.

In my effort to be mindful, I have noticed that I am not so mindful.

I have noticed that my brain resembles a pinball machine with thoughts bouncing around from one topic to the next in random order. While I am nowhere near having a calm and quiet mind, I wonder if maybe at least being aware of the mind chaos is a start.

Look for our follow up post to see how our meditation challenge is going and check out the beginning of our journey here!


Photo: Aliona Sorocov on Pixoto.

This is what happens when Cat meditates.

Okay. I’ve set the timer. I’m going to close my eyes and…

Wait, what sound did I use for the alarm? It probably shouldn’t be something awful and intrusive. Birds chirping? Perfect. Okay, now I’m going to close my eyes and do this.

First I should scan my body and be aware of myself, physically. I read that doing this will help me to eventually be just as aware of my emotions as of my physical body, which I dearly need right now.

Starting at the toes. (Wiggle.)

Oh, shit. I’m not supposed to move, just scan and feel them. Try that again. Alright, my toes feel like, well, toes. They’re fine. Next, my legs. I can feel them resting against the chair. I have a mosquito bite. Oh, that itches. Oh that itches like crazy! I’m supposed to only be aware of the physical, aren’t I? And not move? How can I not scratch that? I have to, or I’ll never get through this. (Scratch.)

Well, that was a distraction. But I’m still here. There is either distracted or undistracted meditation and I’m still here so this isn’t a failure. Failure is not doing it. Ah! I’m letting thoughts run away again, even if this time it’s about meditation.

Next? Yes, my knees. One hurts. Am I going to have bad knees and need a replacement like the rest of my family? Oops. Crap. Okay self, back to the body. Feeling and being aware of my back and stomach, chest, neck, arms and head.

Oh, was that too quick? I forgot my ears. Should I scan my head as a whole or in parts? (Giggle.) Something about scanning my lips and eyebrows just seems funny.

Okay, self, stop that.

I’ll try that again, this time more slowly. I hope I don’t run out of time. Don’t wiggle the toes this time.

(Physical scan again, this time more slowly, and a little less distracted.)

Okay now I’m going to breathe. Just focus on the breath. I have so much to get done, I can’t afford to be sitting here doing nothing. Shhh, self. Stop—this isn’t nothing. This is necessary.

One. (Breathe in.) Two. (Breathe out.) Three (Breathe in.) Four. (Shuffle.) (Breathe out.) Five. Was that supposed to be a breath in or out? I’m supposed to be feeling the breath. (Breathe in.) Where am I supposed to feel it?

(Breathe out.) (Breathe in.) (Breathe out.) (Breathe in.) I can’t feel my breath in my chest or in my stomach. I feel the air in my nostrils and that’s it.

Is that too shallow? Am I not breathing heavy enough? Am I too fat to feel my breath?

Hello, self. You’re thinking again. Focus. Breathe.

One. (Breathe in.) Two. (Breathe out.) Three. (Breathe in.)

(More very distracted breathing. I never make it to 10.)

(Sound of birds chirping.)

Okay, don’t get up yet. Let the mind be free. Let it think what it wants.

(Pause.) I’m thirsty. Time to go get a drink.


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Ed: Catherine Monkman & Dana Gornall

Photo Credit: MeditationMusic.net

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