I thought I would post some reflections on my attempts meditating in the last couple of weeks. So far, I’ve been able to meditate every day (except weekends), which is the longest period of time I have ever been able to keep it up. I’ve noticed a few subtle changes in that time. I was definitely able to focus on my breath without getting distracted for up to a few minutes. This is pretty good for me, because I am always jumping around to different thoughts in my mind. I think I was able to notice intervening thoughts more quickly, like evaluations of how I was doing, or thoughts about the past or future. When I notice them, though, I still have to work on just noting the content of the thought and then escorting my attention back to the breath, without being judgey on getting distracted the first place. The thoughts I find most slippery are thoughts about meditating while I am meditating – like thoughts about making a nice meditation corner in my apartment, thoughts about building my practice into a lifelong habit, thoughts about becoming less stressed and more Zen, etc. Of course, none of those nice things is going to happen if I’m thinking about them instead of actually meditating!
I like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s explanation on his disk (meditation for pain) – that meditation is a journey exploring yourself and your relationship to pain, with no destinations promised, such as ending up having less pain or becoming enlightened. Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix promises more – less stress and reduced pain. I think that Dr. Jackie is probably trying to give hope to chronic pain patients, as well as feels supported by recent research, whereas Kabat-Zinn is coming from a more traditional meditation background which emphasizes nonattachment and impermanence/changeability. I think both perspectives give a good balance; the first gives you hope and reason to keep practicing, while the second reminds you that being judgmental or frustrated, because you aren’t where you want to be yet, defeats the purpose of the exercise. I think that over the last two weeks I got better at understanding that each day is different and that I can’t expect a certain result every time I meditate.
One of the phrases on my guided meditation track asks you to reflect on “accepting being in the here and now”. While I was meditating last week, I found a strong internal resistance to those words. When I looked around my living room, I felt sad and resigned to be there, then. I realized that these feelings came up because I feel unhappy with my current lot – being at home, on disability, without any concrete plans for the future. This week I made more of an effort to get out and spend my time doing the things that I enjoy. I went to an interesting talk at the library, watched lectures from my online course at a café, and went for lunch with my godmother (this is part of my philosophy of living like I am a retiree – don’t people wait all their lives for time to pursue their hobbies?). Then I had another, more interesting, revelation: I have been feeling guilty for enjoying my life again. Remember the superwoman overachiever tendencies? Part of me thinks that, until I have ‘solved’ the problem of my fibromyalgia, I have no right to have fun. Wouldn’t that be tantamount to shirking my responsibilities as a grown-up, and flaking out on life?
Wow, writing that down makes it seem even more crazy. It seems obvious that it would be hard to heal if I keep pulling myself down into a pit of despondency. So, this week I’ve been challenging that voice by saying that my life is pretty good, actually, thank you very much!