Meditation Challenge(s)

POSTED BY ginntree | 12.07.15

I have always found meditation difficult, a fairly common sentiment. My challenges come in various forms – not being able to develop regular habits, an unusually high (and untimely) amount of itches and fidgets, having a great meditation one day and a really bad one the next, low confidence that I’m doing it well (or right)! I find guided meditation much easier, but I’m determined to develop a strong practice of self-meditation.

Over the years I’ve tried various approaches to meditation, changing the method when I felt that something didn’t work. I thought, “If it doesn’t work, then it probably isn’t for me – the right path should be more clear, right?” Mmmmmmmmaybe not. On my Reiki teacher’s recommendation I picked up Lawrence LeShan’s ‘How to Meditate’, in which he suggests that sticking with a method is worth a try. Consider meditation to be like going to the gym to work out…picture this: it’s a new year and I’m motivated to work out, get fit, and lose weight. It’s been a while since I’ve moved any part of my body except to eat, but I somehow think dumbbells are where I should start. One should be able to lift 20 lbs right? Nope. Well that’s a shame…and a bit embarrassing.

So now, do I give up on the dumbbells? Do I move on to other equipment and maybe try again later? Or do I pick up my pride from the puddle on the floor and see if the 3 and 5 lbs weights are better suited for me? Well I know we’re all saying it…I’d better lower my expectations and try again. Decrease the load. Work at it until I get comfortable and can eventually take on more. We often expect too much of ourselves when we begin a workout or meditation practice. A teacher once told me I should be meditating at least one hour per day. After attempting to do so several times with several “fails”, I became turned off from meditation for a few years. Then a friend suggested I start with 2-5 minute sessions. WHAT?! I can do that? So I did, and though I continue to struggle, the relief from expectation has been amazing.


How to Meditate‘ by Lawrence LeShan

On September 1st I began a 30 day meditation challenge using the the count-your-breaths method similar to the one discussed in LeShan’s book:

Breathe in – 1, Breathe out – 1
Breathe in – 2, Breathe out – 2
etc., counting first to four, working up to 10

It started out really well, but as with most “challenges” I try, my endurance only lasted about two and a half weeks. My meditation frequency dwindled to every other day, to just a few days, until I was only meditating maybe once or twice a week.

Some may see that as failure, but I learned a lot during that challenge:

  • I do better when I meditate in the morning instead of at night.
  • I meditate better with routine and only three days out of the week allow me to have a morning routine.
  • Meditating only three days out of the week is OK right now.
  • I’m just finding my rhythm at the mental gym, so I will have workouts and not-so-good workouts…but at least I’ll be gentle and forgiving with myself.
  • Letting go of meditative expectations makes meditating easier.
  • The method doesn’t necessarily matter, what matters is the work.

Since the challenge I’ve become more comfortable with meditation. I find that my distractions are shorter and I am able to focus on my breath for longer blocks of time. I’m still not great at it, but I definitely see growth! I don’t know if I’ll ever master meditation fully, not that I don’t hope to become really great at it. I will stagnate and I may regress, but that’s OK. It’s all part of the journey.

What are your experiences with meditation? Do you have any suggestions or questions?

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IMG_3218Courtney Ginn is a certified Reiki Practitioner in Sacramento, CA. She combines her Usui and Practical (Kundalini) Reiki training with various modalities to create personalized sessions for her human and animal clients alike.

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  1. POSTED BY Phillip | 12.08.15

    I use a meditation timer in the mornings. This way I can focus on breathing in whatever manner I want to (I stopped counting), but I have to sit there for a predetermined amount of time, giving myself a chance to “settle in” to the session without having to think about how long I have to sit there. Taking time out of the equation helps.

    • POSTED BY ginntree | 12.09.15

      That’s a great idea! I do find myself wondering how long I’ve been meditating after a little while. I’ll have to try using a timer to see if that helps ease that particular challenge. Thanks!

  2. POSTED BY Nicole Azuras | 12.08.15

    Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I’m not the only one with very oddly timed itches!!

    • POSTED BY ginntree | 12.08.15

      Yes, they always seem to magnify when we try and sit quietly, don’t they?! 🙂

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