Monday, February 04, 2013

Day 4 of #30DaysofMeditation: Going To Your Quiet Place

Let Go.
Meditations for Villains

This month, I'll be writing a series of blog posts about meditation for #30DaysofMeditation; mainly about my own experiences with mediation and what I've learned from them.

It will be less boring than that sounds, though. 

I'll also be including a little mediation exercise in each post. These will help you both build up from a meditation newbie to a pro, as well as open you up to new meditation methods and practices.

In my particular line of work, setting boundaries can be tough. It is both the beauty and the pain of being an independent contractor: You have the freedom and flexibility to work whenever you want, however you want. Sometimes, though, that can translate to clients as "I can work whenever and however you want."

I've learned then, through trial and error, that it's essential for me to carve out time for myself. That's, in part, why I'm so dedicated to my meditation practice. Not only is it the best time of my day, but I've learned that I just simply don't work as well without it.

So since I work best in the afternoon and evening, mornings are kind of a sacred time for me. I meditate, I read, I do yoga, and most importantly, I write. I try not to check email or answer any calls, as the hyper mode of emails and clients and work can take my mind out of the meditative state and into "I better get to work, maybe I don't have time to meditate or write this morning, maybe I can do it later..." etc. Except that...when I tell myself that maybe I can do it later?

 I never do it later.

Today was one of those mornings where it felt like different forces were pulling me in all different directions. I woke up feeling excited and happy to have the morning to myself to do some writing and to meditate. Bounded out of bed with the thought of it, even. And then I got a text, and then I got a call, and then I got another text telling me to call ASAP. Excited and happy feeling? GONE.

I wanted to stay committed to myself and not go back on my boundaries - nobody was dying, the world wasn't going to end, and sometimes client relationships, like all relationships, are an exercise is behavior therapy: If I respond to outside demands to give up my very slim and precious window of time that I have just to myself, I would be sending the message to both them and myself that I'm okay with those outside demands and distractions during that time. And I can't be, because that only begins the slow spiral into "My time is always your time!" And then I'll go crazy and start killing people.

So I sat there and felt the resentment and anxiety and anger build up - that kind of avalanche where you start to think about all the other things you have to do that day, how you just wanted this one piece of time to relax and get centered and start the day off on a good note, and now you're stressed and irritated and resentful - and then I realized that even though I was sticking to my sacred time, I was still letting work infringe on it. So I sighed and thought, "I need to go to my quiet place" (ala Hot Rod), and I put my ear buds in. Whenever it's particularly difficult to quiet my mind and go back to that meditative state, I put on "Von" by Sigur Ros and I simply concentrate on each particular note of the song. Every time an anxious thought or feeling comes in, I simply remind myself that I have all the time in the world to attend to this and that, but right now? I'm listening to this song until it's over, and this is all I have to do right now, right in this moment.

And it works. Sometimes, when it comes to meditation, we all need a little help. That's when guided meditations are so helpful, and it's also when I fall back on music, my favorite way to get my mind back to that state.

So today, I encourage you to try the same method. I've found that, whether they're just starting out in their practice or are an old pro, the old time factor can sometimes creep in a lot of people, especially when we have a lot to do or when our mind is swimming with anxiety. "I have to sit still for fifteen minutes?! I've got shit to do!" And again, it's that old adage - if you don't feel that you have time to meditate, do you have time to feel like crap? So on days like this, it can be really helpful to have a close-minded period of time or activity to focus your meditation on. Picking a great piece of instrumental music gives you specific amount of time that is just yours for meditation, and it gives you something to focus on that is soothing and uplifting and inspiring at the same time. You might be surprised just how quickly you're able to go into the meditative state with this particular trick.

Your turn: What have you found to be helpful when it comes to meditating in the middle of a stressbomb day? If you use music, what are some of your favorite tracks to use? 

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