A few weeks ago I wrote about how much I love coffee but that I had to give it up because it was starting to affect my ability to focus. I’m happy to report I’m still off the juice. Giving up coffee has helped to slow down my mind and body; no more raciness. But I’ve noted some remnant busyness in my mind that I’ve been itching to shake off. It sort of feels like I’m peeling an onion, working through the layers and getting closer to the core. Last week, I peeled another layer by starting a personal journey into meditation practice. Week 1 is in the rear view mirror and I’m seeing notable benefit already.
Meditation isn’t entirely new to me. I’ve meditated sporadically for several years, mostly with Wendy. She’s my resident mind/body expert. Wendy has been meditating for years; sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but she always comes back to it. She’s been to a number of retreats focused on mindful based stress reduction and has even done an 8-hour meditation. Wendy’s reasons for meditating are very personal. Suffice to say, that among several other tools, meditation has been a key weapon in her arsenal to combat some difficulties not of her own making. So periodically, I would meditate with her, more out of curiosity than commitment.
Well, I think I’m ready to commit. Each day for the past week, I’ve meditated for 15 minutes in the evening and for five minutes mid-day at work. In the evening, I’ve used a guided meditation by Janet Solyntjes of The Center for Courageous Living. It is a fifteen minute meditation led by Janet’s voice and focused on mindfulness and observation. What I observe during meditation is the ability to separate myself from the random thoughts that my brain produces. And there are a lot of random thoughts that creep in. The trick, I’m told, is not to make those thoughts go away, but simply to observe them, acknowledge them and then move on to being present without judging yourself for having the thought. 15 minutes of meditation, at home, in a quiet environment after the kids are in bed doesn’t feel that long to me. I’m pretty sure I can and should go longer.
The five minute meditations at work are a real bear. If you want to see just how cluttered your mind is during your work-day, try meditating for 5 minutes in your office.
If you want to experience what an eternity feels like, try meditating in your office environment for five minutes.
— Derek Pilling (@dpilling) January 9, 2015
If you are anything like me and you meditate at work, you will observe your thoughts careening wildly from guardrail to guardrail. Meditating at work has proven as valuable as it is challenging. In five minutes just after lunch, I can get my mind to completely calm down, re-centering and re-focusing for the rest of the day. If I have an opportunity to design a work-space at some point, I’m thinking I’ll add a meditation room.
I can honestly say that meditation is helping me be more present. I’m more focused, directed and purposeful. And the more I read, the more I understand the broad range of health benefits of meditation. Scientists at Harvard have even established that meditation changes the physical composition of the human brain in only 8 weeks. That is a pretty surprising finding.
I’m committed to going deeper with this practice. I’ll post you at the 8-week mark and let you know how it is going and if the physical composition of my brain has changed.