It’s been more than a long time (16 days) since I started the understanding meditation experiment and here I am reporting what’s happened during all this time.
I got late in posting an article this time because of a personal tragedy that occurred last week. I was not able to meditate for many days at a stretch because of this unfortunate event.
As you may already know, during the understanding meditation experiment I plan to meditate for half an hour, every single day, for 30 days. Though I wasn’t able to meditate on every single day, I did meditate on quite a few days.
Let me share with you what I experienced on the days that I did meditate.
Just as I had planned, I meditated by observing my breath.
I switched off the lights, and sat cross legged on my bed with eyes closed. Then, I slowly brought my attention to my breathing. I didn’t control it - make it faster or slower. I simply observed the air going into my nose, my lungs expanding, and the air coming out of my nose. I tried to focus my entire attention on this breathing process for half an hour.
Yes, thoughts kept coming as I focused on my breath. There were times when a meeting with my boss flashed in front of my closed eyes. I remembered a conversation with my girlfriend and even thought of an email some friends had sent me! But as soon as I realized that I was lost in thought, I came back to noticing my breath. Breathing in…and breathing out…
So that’s what I basically did. I tried to notice my breath for 30 minutes - until my alarm went off. :)
Yeah - that’s the interesting part.
You know how it feels when you have slept exceptionally well the night before, and you wake up to see the sun rising? Don’t you feel fresh and calm and peaceful for a few moments? That is how I felt after meditating almost each time.
OK, let me give you another example. Pause for a moment right NOW - and observe - what is at the back of your mind at this instant? Is it the bills to be paid? Is it the remark a friend made last week? Is it something your wife said yesterday? Or the assignment you have to complete by tonight? Pause again. Imagine - if the back of your mind was absolutely clear - if nothing at all was troubling you or irritating you and you were at peace - for some moments - how would you feel? What if deep down, there was only relaxation and silence if only for a few minutes? I felt somewhat like that for a few minutes after meditating.
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I wouldn’t say I felt absolutely splendid or that I felt like I was beyond this world - but yes - there was a special sense of peace and calm…
Ah..there was only and only one problem - my thoughts. :)
I would try to focus on my breath, feel the air coming in…filling my lungs…and then suddenly I would drift into thoughts about a movie or a friend or my workplace or some place in Africa I had read about in a book!
The point is, despite having meditated so many times in the last few days, I still drift into thoughts so many times during meditation. Yes, I do come back to focusing on breathing every time I detect I am lost - but getting lost has indeed been quite easy. :)
Let’s hope those thoughts gently subside as I continue my meditation efforts in the next few weeks…
One thing that I noticed in the past few days was that though I did feel peaceful and fresh after meditating each time, I did not feel exceptionally blissful or relaxed. As I said, it just felt like I had slept very well and woken up - fresh and energetic to face the day ahead.
What I did notice however was that on one of the days when I also performed a special meditation called “how am I?” meditation for 10 minutes or so along with the regular breathing meditation, I felt amazingly peaceful. In fact, this day’s mediation was the most relaxing and calming meditation throughout last fortnight.
So - I am changing the experiment a bit. In the next week, I will not necessarily meditate simply by noticing my breathing. I will also try two other forms of meditation as and when I feel like it. :) These two forms of meditation are the “how am I?” meditation and the “listening to sound” meditation.
In the how am I? meditation, you simply ask yourself - “how am I?” and listen for an answer. You don’t just say “I am fine” or “I’m not that fine”. You feel the answer. You feel the emotion you are experiencing at that instant and the thought that is passing through your mind in that instant. And you observe it…And throughout the meditation you do just that - you observe how you are. If you sense agitation, you let it be. if you sense a thought coming, you let it be. The point is, you don’t stop anything - but you observe the emotions you are feeling and the thoughts you are thinking by asking yourself again and again - “how am I right now?”
So that’s one meditation I will add to this experiment in the next one week. Will it make me feel more peaceful? Let’s see. :)
The other meditation that I want to add to the experiment is “listening meditation”. In this mediation - you just pause - and listen to all the sounds you can hear. Generally, we ignore most of the sounds around us because we are very busy with our thoughts. But in “listening meditation”, you listen to the sound of the fan or the air conditioner. You listen to that bird chirping a long distance away. You listen to the sound of the computer. You listen to the sound that your typing on the keyboard makes. You listen to any noise - any sound…near you….
And this is also a part of what I am going to do next week!
So basically, instead of simply focusing on breathing meditation, I will also try these two meditations next week. I am doing this because though breathing meditation did relax me very much, I have a feeling that these meditations might lead to even more peace…. :)
What will this coming week bring along? Will I finally be at peace with my thoughts as I meditate? And will these new kinds of meditation I am trying help me in any way? I don’t know perfectly yet - but whatever I experience - I will definitely tell you. :)
See you next week!
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