I have always waffled on the idea of a New Year’s resolution. Some years I was quite gung-ho and other years I didn’t really think about making a resolution at all. It was clear, during this past New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house, that there was a sense of discomfort, stress, and pressures for some to not only create a resolution, but attain their goals or be viewed as a failure. It was a quintessential example of how we can be so unkind to ourselves and how our perceptions can really trip-us-up.
I have come to understand that it is not so much the resolution itself, but the stories we tell ourselves about our intentions and how we see unfolding events and experiences as linear. Such as, “If I do w, x, and y, then z should occur” and, if z does not occur, or turns out differently than the expectations we have predicted for ourselves, then we are a flop, and we, subsequently, scrap the whole deal.
Meditation can be like that for some people. They go in with a set of albeit wonderful forecasts, only to feel let down by a series of stories; they have attempted to guide the meditation rather than be guided by it. I hear things like, “Well, I tried it for a month and nothing happened”, or “I just can’t shut down my brain; it’s not possible for me”, etc. But, what if you went into it without any presumptions? What if one refrained from doing any “pre-commitment” reading on meditation or mindfulness? What if you just sat in a room and began to breathe?
This is my suggestion. Just start by using intentional breaths. Once a day, sit and take ten deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth slowly, but be comfortable with the exhale. I live in a small house that can be very busy at times and I also did this in the hospital (no private room), and once you begin to breathe, and count the breaths, all the distractions tend to fade into the background enough that one can embrace the task.
I know some of you are in pain. Try not to get hung up on what you are supposed to feel, or not feel. Let everything just be and breathe.
Here is where the stories come in. You breathe deeply for a few days and it is feeling super. Then, on the fourth day, a child, or partner interrupts you, your dog scratches at the door to get in, the phone rings, or your stomach is growling…but who cares? Go back to the breaths later. There is no need to judge the situation, or become agitated. Don’t beat up yourself (or others)!
So, let’ try this for a few weeks and then, I will write more about where you may want to go from there. I would love to hear about what you are experiencing and, if you have any questions, I will attempt to answer them.