15 Minutes A Day
Almost four months in and I’m meditating 15 minutes a day. I was doing ten-minute sessions for a while, and thought I’d keep it at that. Ten minutes felt like a sweet spot—long enough that it felt impactful, brief enough that it’d never be a scheduling burden. And yet here I am at 15 minutes, and once again convinced I’ve found the sweet spot. This mindfulness thing grows on you.
Some Days I Can’t Focus At All...
I've had meditations through which my mind remained well focused, but it's more common for my thoughts to remain unsettled, for me to almost totally fail to focus. This does not, however, mark a bad meditation. I've noted this before (and mindfulness evangelizers note it often), but I think it bears repeating: it’s okay to “fail” to focus. The point of the meditation is not to blank out your mind, but to strengthen your natural abilities to notice your mind’s activity, and to focus your mind’s thought. When your focus drifts, notice it, and bring it back to your breath.
...And It Still Works
Even on days when my focus feels hopelessly scattered, after a meditation I still find a feeling of settledness upon me. I’m more focused, without making an effort to be so. This doesn't happen every single time but it's starting to feel consistent, and I notice its benefits in different situations: if I’m settling down to read a bunch of articles, it helps me absorb more information; if I want to make dinner, it helps me enjoy it more, if only by dampening the inclination to think about other things while doing it; if I'm feeling anxious or down or am just procrastinating, it helps me get past those things.
Just this morning, I was having trouble focusing, was feeling a bit off without any obvious cause for it. I meditated, and afterwards, it's not that I was suddenly all chipper, but, I could work. You might have noticed this is my, ehem, fourth post today. Not that this qualifies as actual work, so, maybe I'm still procrastinating, but... I'm feeling better about it. And that's something, right? (Just nod and humor me.)
I'm curious how I’ll feel a year from now, whether there’ll be any further change, any greater effect.
Gil Fronsdal’s six Introduction to Mindfulness podcasts were recommended to me. Each is a recording of a class he taught at the Insight Meditation Center in California. He seems like a respected teacher so, hopefully these classes will be good. I’ll post any big takeaways, and lessons learned, as I listen.