Meditating in Public

I meditate in public now. I used to be afraid. What’s up with the weird guy with his eyes closed? 

I don’t care anymore.

Every Friday afternoon my son takes an occupational therapy class. The waiting room is carpeted dysregulation; toys, building blocks, all strewn everywhere, sounds of a kid yelling about tying his own shoelaces, I don’t want to!

Most of the parents sit on their phones scrolling, endless small screen scrolling. That is the normal thing to do, the socially acceptable thing to do, but I hate my phone. If it weren’t for the GPS I’d probably go back to one that flips.

I used to dread the waiting room, but now I place my hands on my lap, set a timer for 30 or 40 minutes, sit and focus on my breath. People come and go around me, their movement like rain fading into the background. Perhaps they glance at me, watch me, I don’t know, I don’t see.

I look forward to OT now, more minutes to meditate, to just be.

My Meditation Practice

Friends ask me about meditation. This coming October will mark 8 years of consistent meditation for me. I started by doing a few daily minutes following instructions I found on a YouTube video. I now do 70 minutes a day, more on Wednesdays, and 100 minutes on both Saturday and Sunday. I also try to participate in a daylong meditation retreat every 4-6 weeks. Why worry about the minutes? More minutes means that I’m less reactive, less prone to agitation while driving my kids to and from countless activities. I tried doing only 45 minutes, but it didn’t work, my stress level went up. I found that at least an hour was my magic amount. What kind of meditation do I do? Vipassana or mindfulness meditation, and often Metta or loving-kindness meditation.

How do I get my minutes in? 3am to 3:20am is usually my first session after going to the bathroom (then I go back to sleep). Session number two is from roughly 6:20am to 6:30am. Before I get out of bed I’m already halfway to an hour, and more importantly, I’ve set my intention to be mindful with my day ahead. Around 8am I get in my next meditation, 2 minutes before opening my computer at work. I find it takes the apprehension out of checking early morning email. Assuming there is a work meeting where I’m mostly listening, I will sneak in 3 more minutes there, counting my breaths (7 inhales equals one minute). Depending on the day, I will sit in my car for 5 minutes of meditation before leaving to go home or pick up a child. If I’m alone in the car driving, I will meditate at the longer red lights collecting at least 2 more minutes. At home to help with dinner, I’m at 42 minutes. My last session comes at around 9pm after reading to my son and tucking him into bed. I mindfully breathe for 28 minutes while he falls asleep. 70 minutes complete.

Key for me is that I’m always looking for meditation minutes, similar to people who try to get in steps. Rather than trying to be more physically active, I’m finding opportunities to be more mindful, more present. For me meditation is an opportunity to let my inner self connect with something bigger than just me. Endless time? The universe? Infinite wisdom? Who knows exactly what it is, but meditation has brought me peace, contentment, the ability to not care so much about superficial things.