I started a meditation practice today.
I love starting new things on the first of the month. It’s like 12 chances at New Year’s Resolutions. And, ok, often they go about as well. But I still try.
I find making myself follow a rule helps. I suppose if your nature is to rebel against rules, this might not work, but for me, rules give me an extra boost of discipline, even if I’m the one creating the rule.
My new rule: I have to get up at 5am. Every day. No exceptions. Doesn’t matter if I go to bed late, if a small person crawls into my bed in the middle of the night, if it’s cold. My alarm goes off and I get up within five minutes, with the intention of being sitting by 5:15. Today it was 5:17, not bad. Then I meditate for 15 minutes, at minimum.
I do have an “out,” however. While the goal, of course, is to stay up and get other things done, if I still want to go back to bed after I meditate, I can. I just need to keep my meditation “appointment” first.
This morning, settling in was tough. I have a hard time keeping my mind centered. I started by quietly speaking a word as I breathe in and out, but I have the unfortunate ability of being able to speak one thing and think another (same happens with reading, even out loud, which is why although I have always been a strong reader, my reading comprehension is terrible). I tried imagining a candle and focusing on it, but that didn’t really work either.
However, I recognize that this is part of the process of practicing meditation. Part of the point is the continual returning of the mind to the center. Knowing this didn’t fully stop me from getting a bit antsy and frustrated, but it did keep me going. When I finally landed on something that worked to keep my attention, I was surprised when my timer went off; the time had actually seemed to pass more quickly than I expected!
Here’s what worked: I started at my toes and moved bit by bit up my body, filling myself with joy. I don’t exactly recall whether I was noting that I observed joy or experienced it, or the precise words, but the gist was “There is joy in my toes. There is joy in my feet. There is joy in my ankles. There is joy in my shin. There is joy in my calf.” And so on.
Honestly, I actually felt a physical sensation in each body part as I named it, and it left me feeling quite peaceful and optimistic about my day.
That lasted about two hours. There was yelling and crying and foot stomping. My three year old was grumpy, too.
Apparently, when I get up at 5am, I need to eat before 8. Hanger is real, and it’s not pretty. I guess I need to be mindful of my physical needs as well, and fill my stomach with more than just joy. Sigh.