Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Adventures In Meditating

Okay, you all recall, I'm sure, that meditation relates to time management because it is supposed to improve concentration. You make better use of your time, if you can stay focused on a task. That's why I keep coming back to meditation. I'm not a born focuser.

The Workshop

In October I attended another workshop (my first was in 2014) run by Dharma Drum Mountain USA,
Not that much soy sauce in real Chinese food.
Hartford, CT Branch
. Forgive the lousy pictures, but I don't have the nerve to go up to a Buddhist monk and ask if I can take a selfie with him. As it is, I shocked one this time when he overheard me asking the woman running lunch if there was chicken in one of the dishes. His eyes kind of popped, and he shook his head. He couldn't bring himself to speak.
Getting ready to sit.

Both this workshop and the one in 2014 began with a lengthy discussion of options for sitting. I was more tolerant of this the second time around, because between workshops I read an article indicating that posture while meditating is important because it will impact breathing. Nonetheless, I have yet to find a posture that works well.

Both this workshop and the one in 2014 covered a formal walking meditation that involved a particular foot placement at a very slow pace, moving in a circle. I'm not a fan. It requires so much effort that I can't not think. Instead, I do the meditative walk described in Chi Walking by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer, though probably in a loosey-goosey sort of way.

New for this workshop was the section on counting breaths. This I can actually get into. You just have to count to ten without thinking about anything else. If you think of something else, you have to start over. You're just focusing on numbers. If you can't focus on the numbers, you have to focus on the numbers, anyway. (No, that sentence isn't a mistake.)

I had already heard of this.

The App

In September I started using Stop, Breathe & Think a guided meditation app. Here's the thing with guided meditation...someone is actually telling you what to do. One of the things this app told me to do is the counting breath thing I just mentioned above.

You may recall I was on vacation in September. I got this app so I could use it in the car, while someone else was driving. I swear. I got my traveling companion into it because...you earn "stickers" for achieving certain things. He'll do anything for a sticker or a patch.

Evidently so will I, since I've racked up 28 stickers and have meditated with the app 68 days in a row. I went even longer, but missed a day and had to start over. I should be trying other kinds of meditation, but I can't face breaking my 60+ day run. I'm hoping that when I hit 70, I'll get a sticker.

So You Must Be Getting Good At This Meditation Stuff, Huh, Gail?


Au contraire, mes amis. I'm remarkably unbothered by my lack of progress, too. Why? Because Kelly McGonigal writes in The Willpower Extinct that the effort those of us who suffer from a wandering mind have to make to get back to the breath actually develops our brains and builds the discipline/willpower we're looking for. I'm working on the theory that being bad at meditation will eventually get me the result I'm looking for.

Fortunately, I'm a journey person, not a destination person. So far, I'm not minding how long it's taking to get me that result.

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