August 15, 2013

A Habit of Peace: 21 Days of Practice. ~ Dana Gornall


Dana invites her daughter to try meditation—which of them lasts only 25 seconds?

I’ve tried meditating many times.

In years past, I have attended a few meditation workshops, purchased and read books on the topic (including Meditation for Dummies) and had a one on one instruction session at a Buddhist temple. Occasionally I have a fleeting sensation of what meditation is—sort of a light, drifting, peaceful feeling. However, most of the time my brain is fraught with inner chatter.

I have been told this is completely normal and that I just need to practice more. However, as a working mom of three children, making time to practice can be almost downright impossible. I usually set a goal of meditating for 10 or even 5 minutes every night. I start off actually following through with this for a few days or so and then I have a crazy bad day.

Perhaps my teenager is grouchy or comes home late from curfew and I am riddled with frustration and anger. Maybe my son has a friend over to spend the night and they are rowdily gaming on the Playstation and leaving potato chip crumbs all over the living room. Possibly I’m just exhausted from running like a mad woman from work, to cooking a somewhat healthy dinner and dashing off to karate or tumbling class.

Whatever the reason, at some point I forget or just collapse in a heap on the bed. And then I realize, this is why I need meditation more than ever.

I need to find a way to commit to a practice. So I presented myself, and my friend, a challenge. Following along with Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day by Andy Puddicombe, I plan to form a meditation practice.

With a friend practicing with me from thousands of miles away and in a whole different country, I feel like maybe I will accomplish some kind of routine. Then maybe the next time my daughter arrives past curfew, I can yell talk to her mindfully.

To start, I like the way Puddicombe presents this material. He uses storytelling to instill the bare bones of meditation, which keeps my attention throughout the book. Let’s face it, most of us are at least slightly ADHD so I can appreciate this and it cements the lessons further into my mind.

He suggests setting aside quiet time to begin practice, but I found this especially challenging with kids around. To maneuver through this snag, I asked my youngest to try it with me. We set a timer and simply sat for one minute with our eyes closed. There was no pressure to meditate or say a mantra—just sit. About 25 seconds into the minute she belts out, “This is boring!” and stormed out of my bedroom. Oh well.

One minute of peace is better than none and I’m thinking if I can make time for one minute I can make it 5 the next time around.

The Challenge: 10 minutes a day of meditation for 21 days. I’ve always heard that habits can be formed in 21 days and that if you want to start something new you should enlist the help of a friend or support system. This seemed like a good way to start. With fingers crossed, a meditation manifesto is born.


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Ed: Dana Gornall

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