365 days ago I started meditating. Truthfully, 365 days ago my therapist made me start meditating. She challenged me to do it twice a week. And I did it because I couldn’t NOT do a challenge. But it wasn’t pretty. I would put it off until the two days before I saw her. I begrudgingly took my meditative position on the floor with much sighing and fidgeting. But only after vacuuming, rearranging the pillows on the couch, doing dishes, brushing the cat and doing every other conceivable thing to procrastinate. Then I would meditate. For ten whole, excruciatingly long minutes. I would cross it off my to-do list with borderline violence, the pen pushing so hard on the paper it left a hole. I practically saluted my therapist when I reported I had indeed meditated two whole times in a single week — Mission complete, ma’am!
Then my therapist told me to meditate three times a week. I sighed. I rolled my eyes. I slumped down on my therapist’s couch. But then something happened. Somehow I began meditating more than three times a week. It’s possible that it had something to do with discovering Insight Timer, an meditation app. Not only does Insight Timer offer lots of guided meditations ranging in time from two minutes to one hour, it also keeps track of your stats. It tells me how many days in a row I have meditated, my cumulative total session time, and (wait for it …) it has bar graphs! EEEEE!!! (And no, I’m not getting paid tow rite this post.)
I KNOW – IT’S AWESOME. Especially for a slightly competitive person who might possibly thrive on PR’s and milestones. I know some of you are probably thinking, “But meditation shouldn’t be a competitive sport. The Buddha wouldn’t approve!” Fair point. But here’s the thing, I’m no longer doing it to beat last week’s minutes or to get to the next milestone of consecutive days. At least not primarily. I do it because it’s a daily habit. If a little competition with myself helps me cultivate a healthy habit, well . . . bring it on!
You’re probably wondering how meditation transformed my life. Have I miraculously stopped yelling at my kid? Am I soaking up every moment of every day in a state of perpetual bliss? Am I more patient and loving with my spouse? The answers are no, no, and no.
I still yell, although I am slower to anger and much more aware of when I am about to lose it. I have a deeper understanding that not every moment is meant to be soaked up and loved. Some of our life involves waiting patiently for change, seeking solace in the impermanence of every moment — good or bad. AND THIS IS OKAY. I asked Demetri if he thought I was more patient since I began meditating and he looked at me blankly, paused for about 20 seconds and said, “You started meditating?” He then became very busy with his glass of wine. I took that as a ‘no’. But I am on the path of being more patient and loving with myself. And that, my friends, is no small task. A year ago I couldn’t even find the path, but now I’m on it. I AM ON THE PATH. Or at least I’m on a path. Semantics.