Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Stress Less in March Wrap-Up

It's hard to believe that March is over already. Hats off to Chile for holding her "Stress Less in March" challenge, which was a really good motivator for me. I took time to look into this whole meditation thing, with the help of a book I got from the second hand store called, Meditation Made Easy. This is a great little book that downplays the idea that meditation is something that only hermits in Tibet or India know how to do. It makes the point that humans have a natural tendency to meditate, which is just the ability to focus whole-heart-and-mindedly on something. It doesn't' require any special poses, clothes or equipment, just a willingness to pay attention to something, big or small, and focus on what that paying-attention feels like for as long or as short as you like.

I found out that I'm just not a morning meditator at all. I would just sit there and wish I was still in bed. I couldn't pay attention to anything for very long, because I kept dozing off. The meditation book pointed out that this isn't a bad thing, and that if you are sleepy you should just catch up on your sleep first. So I changed to meditating for a little while before bed instead, when I was actually more awake. I wouldn't do it every night, but more than half of the time anyway.

And I've also developed the habit of stopping every now and then, wherever I am, to see/hear/smell whatever was going on at the time and appreciate it for what it was. Sometimes with the help of my online mindfulness bell, and sometimes not. The meditation book talks about all the different ways we can do this in a day, from pausing to enjoy our cup of tea and the taste of our food, to feeling the warmth of the sun, to looking at a picture in a photo album and remembering (fondly or otherwise) the event it depicts.

Another good idea in this book is the idea of arriving everywhere early. The author points out that setting aside 20 minutes to meditate and then speeding through traffic to avoid being late for work or an appointment is decidedly counterproductive. He recommends adjusting your life schedule so that you can get places on time, and still have time to be compassionate on the way. Then you have time to go the speed limit when you're driving, and time to be kind and let someone merge in front of you. Time to wave to a neighbor as you walk/drive/pedal by. Time to enjoy the sunrise or sunset. All of these things become natural meditative moments in your day. And if there is still time available in your day to meditate for a set period, all the better. But even if there isn't, the day is likely to have had some restorative moments in it anyway.

So thanks for this challenge Chile! It has been one of my favorites!


Chile said...

Wow, you really went whole hog and had a great time with this, Theresa! Sounds like all you needed was the little push in that direction. :)

Thanks for the book review. I'll add it to my list of books to look for in the secondhand stores. Can't buy new now, not with Crunchy Chicken watching us...

kale for sale said...

I've never been a morning meditator either. It's always been easier to have the day behind me so I could let go of it and do a sit. Which after reading this I'm going to do tonight. Thank you.

Theresa said...

I did have a great time with it Chile! Giving myself time to just sit and focus on one thing or another on purpose without guilt was very cool.

The evening meditation has been a lot better for me too, Kale. It is a nice wind down before bed, and a way to just have a sense of 'rightness' at the end of the day.

I think it is something I will do from now on, although probably not always for a set period every day.

Chile said...

When I was meditating regularly, I found the evening did not work for me at all. I was far too likely to drop off to sleep! That's okay once in a while, but not every single time. If I don't get it done in the morning, it generally doesn't happen. Unfortunately, morning is my most productive time for everything so it ends up overscheduled.