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66 Days of Meditation

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by DesertEskimo, May 30, 2013.

  1. DesertEskimo

    DesertEskimo Member

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    Hello there everybody. I wanted to find a community of people devoted to different types of meditation to share my experiences with.

    I was kind of skeptical about meditation since I was born and raised a critical thinker, and the different types of meditation, the different results, all seemed kind of hokey and based more in the placebo effect than anything else (no offense!). So you can definitely imagine my surprise at learning that meditation (besides many years of tradition) also has a lot of scientific and empirical backing. So with that in mind, I wanted to give it a try.

    I also believe that if meditating does bring more clarity, more focus, more happiness, and more discipline, then it's something I can't just "get," it's something that needs to become a part of my regular lifestyle. Which means I want to make meditating a habit, an indispensable part of my life. So I've settled on a challenge for myself, which is to devote the next 66 days to meditating.

    My hope is to see increased discipline, focus, and well-being from myself. I also want to challenge my old beliefs about myself and change the way I feel about things, to move from a goal-oriented person to a process-oriented one. So I will be meditating for an hour a day (summertime in between college semesters will be just the thing I need), for the next 64 days. And I'd also like to post my daily experiences here, to keep myself accountable, and share my journey with people who may have been through similar (or radically different) processes.

    If that's NOT okay, just let me know :)
     
  2. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    Sounds like worth a try, doesnt it. :)

    I like your logical view of things, it helps to keep a distance and not get involved too much into unimportant aspects of things.

    My only advice would be to let go of your self set goals the moment you start meditation. Because thatll just keep a wall between you and what mediation is about.

    Waiting to hear from your progress! :)
     
  3. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Sounds good, and will be interesting to follow how you get on.

    My only advice would be to split your meditation to two 30 minutes sessions each day, once first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon. If you're new to meditation then a single 1 hour sitting may not be as beneficial or easy to achieve (and even experienced meditators would perhaps struggle to sit for that long).

    What type of meditation practice will you be doing?

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  4. DesertEskimo

    DesertEskimo Member

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    Giles: for my meditation, I do four things.

    1) Breathing meditation, where I just take deep breaths, focus on the feeling of air coming into my body, the feeling of exhaling it out, and the stillness in between. I typically start by trying to concentrate on the actual words "inhale" and "exhale," then slowly fade out to just the feeling. When I notice my mind wandering, I bring it back.

    2) Stillness meditation, where I sit absolutely still. I don't permit myself to do any real motion, even when I feel discomfort. I use this to get in touch with the finer, smaller sensations in my body, and also to practice control over my normally fidgety behavior. Becoming comfortable with discomfort, learning to observe my impulses rather than act on them without noticing them, that kind of thing. During this, I count to a hundred, or something like that.

    3) Metta meditation, which comes at the end. I take a few deep breaths, spend a minute or two thinking about the positive things I've done lately, and then imagine a figure of love or respect in my life giving me positive affirmation for trying to improve myself. I do that at the very end because it always gives me a boost.

    4) Short breaks in between, where I let my mental muscles relax and I give my thoughts permission to jump around while I just watch. This is for helping me figure out what's on my mind and what's most important to me lately. I don't let myself move from the spot I meditate at, though I will extend my legs and lean back and stretch.


    *

    Today was day 3. It was a bit frustrating, since I was pretty tired and I couldn't keep focus on any of the exercises even when I wanted to. I think I even fell asleep for a bit (since I didn't have any coffee, just some iced green tea from my fridge). The real triumph was actually starting at all; I remembered my purpose for doing things.

    Something I've noticed during these stints of intense self-examination is my tendency to think in circles, to start thoughts over and repeat them again and again. When I try and focus on newer ideas, my brain becomes kind of foggy and frustrated. The main thing I've thought about during these past 3 days, in fact, has been my lack of mental structure. Which is weird, because despite my tendency to daydream and ramble internally, I'm extremely logical and analytic when I write. Without something to write with and visually preserve my thought structure, it becomes very hazy, repetitive, and circular. Not in a relaxing way, either.

    Also, despite my tendency to daydream and mentally wander, I don't actually relax very effectively. I'm always worried and neurotic about the time I'm spending that isn't reaching my goals, feeling guilty that I'm not working hard enough. That stress also keeps me from focusing when I'm actually trying to achieve things, so I'm usually distracted and inefficient. It's a rough cycle, one I've known about for awhile; I am hoping that meditating will help me come up with solutions and train me at the things that will break me out of that cycle.
     
  5. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    As a computer programmer myself, I'm the same. ;)

    I won't comment on anything else just yet, I'll see how you progress over the next few days first. ;)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  6. DesertEskimo

    DesertEskimo Member

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    The past couple days have been very interesting.

    On Saturday I didn't stick with it for the full hour. During one of my stillness practices, I decided I would count to five hundred (a little less than one second per count) and just focus on sensations and do my best to avoid any conscious movements or actions (beyond deep breathing). So of course, after about ten seconds I realized I was sitting a little funny on my big right toe and wanted to move. And as I was about to say to myself, "well, I really want to move and there's no point in being super uncomfortable while I do this..." I realized that this was a pattern of thought I've used all my life. Making constant tiny adjustments, and expecting myself to make things easier on myself. Running from little discomforts constantly, to the point where I let myself get distracted from goals. So I told myself no, I wasn't going to readjust. And as I hit the 200s, my toe really started to hate me. But I was able to handle it by delving deeper into other sensations throughout my body.

    By this point, saliva had built up in my mouth, and I desperately wanted to swallow. My hands were stiff from being interlocked for several minutes straight, and at this point, there wasn't a spot on my body that wasn't tensing up. I had no part on my body I could focus on to escape the discomfort, but I was thinking to myself the whole time, "I decide my responses, I decide how I act, I decide how I feel." It was kind of agonizing, to have these sensations demanding my attention, but to hold myself locked in place. I made it though, and fell backwards. At this point, the saliva in my mouth had leaked out of my mouth, my toe had fallen asleep and the last one hundred seconds were intense enough that I fell backwards when I was done counting. I ended up stopping after that, because having my mind occupied with so many sensations was so draining that I just kind of stared at the ceiling for awhile. But it was empowering, too, to know that I had completely resisted all these temptations, had set a goal and met it. I know it sounds a bit dumb, but I spent most of the day a little out of it and dazed.

    Sunday was very mellow. I did very little, in terms of really meditating, I just sat and thought about things.

    Yesterday, however, I had a very enlightening experience. In between practicing my stillness and just focusing on breathing, as I thought about the things that were bothering me, my mind went to some relationship troubles. I thought to myself, "these problems always throw off my entire day when I think about them." But I tried an exercise that I'd read somewhere else, where you close your eyes, imagine yourself inside a giant room, and you feel your eyes relaxing, as if to look at everything at once. Except I took the feeling of frustration, and let it relax along with my vision, and I found myself relaxed so quickly that I actually stopped to try and figure out where my frustration had gone! I did my practices as normal, but I was extremely productive for the rest of the day. I felt like these overpowering feelings were suddenly barely nuisances, like I had absolute control over how I felt.

    Today, I used that technique throughout the day (even after my meditation, which was relaxing, though a bit distracted), and felt it clear my head nearly instantly. It's like having a trigger to put all my feelings and emotions into perspective, and give me a short energy boost when I need it. I don't know why it works so well for me, but it's such a relaxing visualization that I'm still amazed at how much work I got done today. I also used it during a workout, and it helped me overcome fatigue to finish my set. I feel almost unnaturally in control over my emotional responses lately.

    So that makes today 7/66. A full week of meditating! It's been very interesting, and my proudest accomplishment has been getting myself to sit down and try to continue, even if I'm not really feeling up to it.
     
  7. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Interesting experiences so far.

    What I would say is, to put yourself through too much discomfort will only serve to distract your meditation focus, so if you do need to swallow or stretch a limb... just do it. Meditation is not about hurting yourself.

    Some of your practices sound interesting, and I would relate this to visualisation practices rather than deep meditation practices, though they will certainly have some beneficial effects. It's quite well know that if you single pointedly put your focus on an emotion it will disappear, and you've proven that with your practice (and you are also able to do that in your day to day life too).

    Obviously you've found several practices you are comfortable in exploring so that's good. Personally I would have opted for just a single practice at any one time to find out which practice is helping me best. Something you may explore in the future is a non-visualisation type of meditation, such as the one that is taught by Michael on this site as the "discover meditation" CD's you can download for free. What Michael teaches on those CD's is essentially the same as Transcendental Meditation, but without the unnecessary ceremony that the TM organisation put around it (and without the cost as well which is always a benefit!).

    The practice you are doing of connecting with your senses, is one similar to what I have practices as a mindfulness/awareness practice. You can expand this practice by starting with each of the senses (I tend to work from the feet upwards, feeling the feet on the floor, the weight of the body on the seat, the taste in the mouth, the smell in the nose, the images in the eyes, and then the hearing of the ears, and finally expanding the hearing out to encompass all sounds without singling out any one things, allowing all and everything to become "at One" with me.

    And yes, it does take some dedication initially to keep yourself motivated to doing it, but like anything we choose to do in life, if you want to do it well, it takes practice and dedication to get there. Soon it will become second nature and you will be able to bring yourself to awareness at any moment in time.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  8. DesertEskimo

    DesertEskimo Member

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    I tried the Lifeflow demo that (I think) you're referring to, and it was pretty interesting. I toned down the time on the meditation to try and keep it a bit more focused, just to see what the effects/experience would be.

    The first time trying it, I got comfy, took some deep breaths, relaxed, hit play, and tried to just let my mind do what it wanted, to see where it took me. I had some interesting thoughts and felt extremely relaxed during the process, and when I got up I felt pretty energized and motivated. The next two days I tried it (running the soundfile twice) and I found my mind mostly wandering to the same places. I actually fell asleep during one of them, which was a bit surprising.

    What was enjoyable about them was that I felt pretty strong with regards to observing and examining my thoughts without being taken out of them. There are some things that have been on my mind lately (related to relationships, mostly) and when I see my mind constantly being drawn to them, it made me think that these areas are places that really need my attention. I kind of like this method as a way of distancing myself from action, and just seeing what's ACTUALLY important to my emotional state at this time. So I will continue using that demo for now, and see what happens.
     
  9. blah000

    blah000 Guest

    I dont know if this goes off topic to you or not. But something that really worked for me at one point of my practice is staring at the dot exercise. I put a dot with a perfect circle about an inch away from the dot at eye level on printer paper, taped to the door. And it really trains your optic nerve and the mind very well because what you notice is that if you start to think, your eyes will drift off the dot. So not only does it teach the mind to stop thinking so you can get into a deeper state of meditation, it trains your eye to not move because I notice that when your eyelids are shut, its hard to keep your eye looking in one direction. Then you also are trying to get the dot and the circle to disappear while looking at it. I notice that when it does happen, your in "concentration mode." You can even start to see the abstract light that you will sometimes see as your in deep meditation. Its interesting and I figure since your just starting, try it out sometime. Do it before you go to do your actual meditation or if you find it comfortable enough, just stare at the dot and do like a open eye meditation. It made a great difference in a good way for my meditation practice.
     
  10. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    I was actually referring to the "Discover Meditation" CD's rather than the "Lifeflow", though the Lifeflow entrainment tracks are also good to listen to whilst meditating. The Discover Meditation CD's are available from the link in the top left of the forum (or here: http://www.project-meditation.org/project-meditation.zip)

    I'm glad you find the Lifeflow demo useful too. :)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  11. DesertEskimo

    DesertEskimo Member

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    Well, it has been a little over two weeks since I started this journey. I've actually missed a day or two, and I was finding that my enthusiasm and focus had dwindled a bit. Today after doing some exercise (bodyweight stuff in my room), I was feeling a lot of bloodflow and a bit of adrenaline, so I felt pumped up to meditate and relax.

    Oxymoron, I know :)

    I just sat still and caught my breath for a bit in a cross-legged position, leaning back a bit, feeling like I would just kind of settle into my meditation, and had a bit of a revelation about myself. Which is that I feel a very intense "on-demand" expectation towards myself. If I need focus, I want it right away and when I can't get it, I feel guilty. I have an attitude about the person I want to become, a very action-driven, productive engine of a human being.

    But I've also noticed lately that I try to force myself to fit ideals that I get from other places, and that I don't listen to myself as much as I should. Even while practicing meditation, it's been an undercurrent to my thoughts at all times; am I being <adjective> enough, am I making progress, etc. I've found useful tools (like my brief stress-clearing technique above, which works wonders in the very short-term) but when I don't see the results, I start panicking.

    Tonight I sat down and let myself relax into the meditation, and probably just listened to my own breathing calming down for something like 10 minutes. I thought to myself, "you know, I really want to be on-point all the time. Maybe I'll focus better if I just let myself settle into the activity, and be content to do nothing." One of my neuroses has been time-wasting, where I feel constant guilt and stress that I'm not in a state of productivity all the time. But tonight I thought, "you know, maybe that's the reason I CAN'T focus and produce. Because I'm trying to demand it of myself instantly." So I just promised myself I wouldn't worry about focusing or hitting the right mental stride while meditating. I'd just wait for it to happen.

    I found myself sitting up a bit straighter and breathing more deeply over time. Noticing it, I thought, "OH HEY AM I THERE YET," and felt myself snap out of it. I wanted to be upset with myself, but then I thought, "this is a habit I've had for over two dozen years, since I've had a functioning brain. I'll just wait again for it to come back." And it did, and I relaxed again. Kind of like easing myself into cold water, then moving a bit too fast and drawing back sharply, I took my time.

    My thoughts cleared up and slowed down. It was a bit like a steamed mirror having the water drift to the edges as it dissipated, and I just felt like I was in a large open space. And on top of that, I had a weird feeling like I was opening up, like a flower wanting to bloom. And each time I thought, "wow I'm really feeling it" it would fade a bit, and I'd be a bit upset, and I told myself, "just be patient. That's all I'm trying to do. I'll just wait for it to come back." And sure enough, it would. Two steps forward, one step back.

    After a little while (I probably spent about 10 minutes like this) it started to fade kind of abruptly. And my eyes just sort of jumped open, and my clock told me I'd been sitting still, in total, for 28 minutes. It hadn't felt that long. I felt a sort of charge in me, and my thoughts were slow but loud. So I just relaxed for another two minutes, examining the feeling.

    It was one of the more interesting meditations I've had so far. And I think I learned something valuable from it.
     
  12. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Yes, our mind can certainly play tricks with us. Partly you've got the mind telling you that doing meditation is time-wasting, but then partly you're finding that when you're not meditating you become easily distracted and not as focused as you'd like to be. Meditation may seem like 'doing nothing' but the end result, with time and practice, is that the effects of meditation continue in our daily lives when we're not actually meditating, and we become more aware of what is required in the present moment and more focused on what needs to be done, resulting in us getting things done more quickly and left to recognise that we are actually achieving more by being more relaxed and aware.

    LOL! It happens to us all. You get to a state of awareness or "oneness" (to give it a name) and your mind isn't used to it, so it tries to examine it and by doing so the mind becomes active and draws us out of that state. The problem is the mind wants to describe it, and "see" it and understand it, but the mind is only a part of the overall "oneness" so it would be like trying to describe every particle in the universe, you would need more particles to do the description... so a bit of a catch 22 situation. Don't get me wrong, the mind is a useful tool, and we need it in our daily lives to discern things and cogitate on things, but many people live lives beliefing that they are there mind and letting their mind run the show, rather than being aware of themselves and using the mind when it's needed. It is the mind that creates fears of the future, based on events of the past (non of which actually exist in the present), but if we become aware, we bring ourselves to the present moment and recognise the things the mind is creating for what they really are.

    Yes, you are reaching the state of Oneness/Awareness, and you are clearly seeing how the mind is drawing you back from it. Some will explain the mind as being fearful of being lost if we become truly aware, but that is because the mind cannot comprehend awareness, as it is just a part of it... a cog in the clock if you like... the clock will not exist without the sum of it's parts including the cog, but a cog in itself has no awareness of concept of Being a clock.

    That's good. It is good to just sit for a few minutes after, to let your physical body come back or "reconnect". The thing with being in a state of awareness is that time doesn't exist in that state, it's just the physical body clock that keep track of time. When I meditate, I don't use an alarm clock like some people to keep track of time, I simply state to myself before the meditation that I will meditate for N minutes and let my body clock bring me back when the time is ready.... the body clock is fairly accurate from my experience.

    That's great. And you're only a couple of weeks into meditation.

    So, even at this early stage, do you feel that you are gaining some benefit from doing it?

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  13. DesertEskimo

    DesertEskimo Member

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    So it's been awhile since I've posted! I've been noticing that the more I meditate, the more frustrated I get at my lack of concentration. It's like, having come to expect a certain result, and having these great initial experiences to compare my current sessions to, .

    I'll sit, my mind will wander away to something that's been bothering me, and then I'll finally notice. I'll bring myself back to my focus (whether it's breathing, whether it's thinking about sensations in my body or simply slowing down my thoughts) but they're always back in these stressful zones before long. And it's made worse by the comparisons.
     
  14. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    Thats something nearly everyone encounters in meditation. The reason is, that the first sessions are done without expectation (therefore most times very pleasant), and the following sessions are done with the result of the first ones in mind.

    This way our mind overwrites the real experience with the expectation. So the hint is to go into meditation without any expectation and with patience... its quite normal to get distracted, but the more youre fighting it (through resistance), the more it distracts you. Be nice to yourself... when your mind gets distracted, treat it like a child and tell it to go back to where it was. :)

    Atb,
    Phil
     
  15. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    I agree with Pan, this is quite normal.
    People get that "wow I've had a great meditation" one or two times and then try and focus on that during their subsequent meditations rather than focusing on the object of meditation (mantra or whatever).

    No meditation session will be the same as a previous one, and what you 'experience' in one session is just that... an experience, and it doesn't matter if you look back on it with a "Wow!" or a "What?", the point is that you just aim to maintain the focus of the meditation to enter the deep meditative state, and if you don't manage it all the time, or for prolonged periods, just accept that that is normal and move on, knowing that another time it can be better. Beating yourself up over it won't change it.

    Hugs

    Giles
     

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