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.

Outdoor Medicine

There was a night when the four walls couldn’t hold me, when listening to The Velvet Underground was too depressing. No tent, no car,  no pillow, only my two hiking legs and a sleeping bag. Modern John Muir escaping the streets. I ambled my way to the base of a country mountain. 8pm dusk and me just sitting on the ground, my shadow fading into night. Long blades of grass, deer droppings, my new bedroom. Resting there I did nothing, no phone, no book, no flashlight. I wanted the hilly air to take me, absorb me, like only the earth can. There was no plan to sleep, there was no plan to not sleep, there was no plan. There was a her somewhere, out there, over there, without the zest of the World War I tune. But I had the full moon. I saw the moon and the moon saw me. I slept and woke and slept and woke, the moon so bright that I thought to turn it off, then realized where I was again and again. The evening went like that, blanketed in endless space, all the ground my mattress. By morning the her, the she, was a little less in me, nature said, let it be.