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Mileposts in the Distance – Your mission, meditation

Note from Stacey: Every Thursday we’re thrilled to offer Laura’s Mileposts in the Distance column. You can read more about Laura below.

You may have gleaned the fact from some of my posts that I’m not all that partial to change.  The flip side of that is I can’t resist a challenge – something both Stacey and Becca have used to their advantage.  Which I admit – begrudgingly — is also to mine.

Make lists of the top three priorities the next day?  Not so sure about that, Stacey.  But what do you know?  It focuses me.

Pull a 45 lb plate across the gym floor? With my feet? Yeahsureright, Becca.  I don’t think so.  But what do you know? I can do it, and therefore I know I can do a lot of things.

Take 30 minutes every Sunday to focus on the week ahead?  Don’t you know that there’s football or basketball or golf to watch, Stacey?  But what do you know? It lays the week out on a logical path and centers me.

Balance on one leg on a BOSU while curling and pressing a 15 lb dumbbell?  Are you insane, Becca? But what do you know?  On certain days I can kill that move.

When we were going over accomplishments in 2011 and looking forward to 2012, Stacey mentioned that she really thought daily meditation was a missing part of the puzzle that is my day to day life.

Really, Stacey? (That’s my dialogue when presented with something new).  Do I really have to put aside time – as soon as I get up – to meditate?  She was firm on it and since she knows I won’t resist the challenge without a good reason, I was stuck.

I decided to give it five minutes a day during December, figuring it would help during the holidays and it would be habit come the new year.  Stacey has some sterling advice about ways to meditate, methods to try, movements to incorporate.

I ignored it all.  (Sorry about that, Stacey!)

I got up, had a cup of water, made a cup of coffee, sat on my heretofore unused meditation cushion, got up and found a shawl to wear to keep out the chill, set my Zen meditation chimer on my phone for five minutes and started.  Personally, I like the simple method of watching my breath, counting from 1-10 (inhale on odd number, exhale on the even) and starting over once I hit 10.  It’s a method Karen Maezen Miller describes on her blog (http://www.karenmaezenmiller.com/how-to-meditate ) and my go-to whenever my mind gets too busy.

The first day I lasted 2 minutes.  That was it.  I’d sat there, given it a shot, time to move on.

Day 2, it was 2 minutes 30 seconds.  See?  I could do it!  But that was enough.  I wasn’t even waiting for the five minute bell, it was over.

Day 3, I thought about it:  was this working?  Did I really want to sit there when there was so much to do?

“Like what?” asked that head cheerleader. “ Read email?  Read the newspaper?  RUN???”

OK, I was stuck between a promise to Stacey and the rather annoying little chirpy voice in my head.

Five minutes was the time I had sworn to meet and I would stick it out if it killed me.  So when I got antsy on Day 4, I switched the breath pattern to Accept (what I needed) on the inhale, Release (what was no longer necessary to me) on the exhale.  And I got to 5 minutes.  Barely.

I made it through December.  Did I mention the weekends were off? No?  They were.

January 1 signified the start of a 10-minute practice every morning.  And my goodness, it was an eternity, no matter how I worked that breath.  I spent most of the first two weeks insanely emotional about everything and said to Stacey something along the lines of “Why is this happening???? I am meditating!”

She said (with a bit of a laugh), “Yup.”

Let’s pause and edit my list at the top of this post:  I am not partial to change or laughing “Yups” and cannot resist a challenge.

I kept at it, every day.  I made it to the 10 minutes, no matter how hard it was.  I was determined.  But I couldn’t really see how this practice doing anything since my thoughts bounced around like ping pong balls every morning.   My mind was definitely not quieted by meditation.

Then I went to the spa and found myself getting up at 6:30 (sleeping in from my usual 5:45) no matter how late I went to bed, to meditate.  For 10 minutes.  Even though I was on vacation and I couldn’t get my water and my coffee, I sat there and centered myself.

Because that’s what it does.  It centers me.  Today for instance, was one of those floundering days where I am so critical of everything I’ve done or haven’t done.    And just the action of putting my meditation practice into words has calmed me, centered me.

Meditating at the spa also made me realize that I have set up an altar of sorts every morning:  that first cup of coffee.  I take one sip, just one, then I put it on the floor just in front of me and inhale the reward at the end of my 10 minutes.  It makes that first cup all the more refreshing.

I’ve started playing with the idea of 15 minutes in the morning.  Just playing, mind you.  So don’t tell Stacey, ok?  She’ll just nod her head, smile and say, “Yup.”

And you know how much I love that.

Laura Reeth lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with the man of her dreams. With kids off at college, she no longer plays the role of active, day-to-day parent, and has moved into the complex understanding-parent-of-nearly-adult-children role. The main difference is she gets more sleep now.

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