I started the Chopra Center Meditation Challenge five days ago on Monday. Some days I’ve done the meditation once, but other days, I’ve actually done the meditation twice, or repeated a meditation from the previous day. Life had gotten really busy, so it had been a long while since I had meditated regularly. In fact, since my yoga teacher training in 2003, I had not been so disciplined in having a regular meditation practice. Sure, I tried to get in a meditation here and there, but they weren’t as effective as they used to be. A friend told me recently that if you’re making too many plans, it’s time to meditate and be still. Well, it was time to meditate regularly once more. So, when I saw the 21-day meditation challenge, I knew it was for me. I needed something to hold me accountable to the daily meditation.
Well, the week started with the mind of a child — hard to sit still, very active, short attention-span and wanting to wander off on the trail of all types of thoughts. My breathing felt off. Bringing consciousness to the breath made it feel more labored than relaxed. I struggled to find a comfortable sitting position, and if I lied down I most inevitably would fall asleep from how hard I push myself. So, days 1-4 were the same — restless, ansy, wandering thoughts, poor concentration, and an inability to reach those highs I felt when I had meditated regularly in the past. However, from my prior experience, I knew to cultivate a mature patience in this endeavor. Things come with time, and I had committed to doing 21-days of this, so “Hang in there…” I would tell myself. After all, the results that really count take a little longer to kick in, but tend to be more powerful once they do. This is my philosophy in medicine — making important lifestyle changes can often have a more powerful impact on future results than any medication I can prescribe.
So, with that in mind, I’ve undertaken the 21-day challenge with blind faith that nothing will happen. Wait a second? Am I not expecting anything to happen? Well, yes, of course. And I know from previous experience that regular meditation results in a calmer mind, a positive outlook on life, a greater sense of being centered, and a connection to the earth and all living beings. However, to get results, you have to not want and want results at the same time. It is the paradox of meditation. You can set your intentions, and even write them down, because that helps you solidify them and bring them to reality. But, then you have to let them go and trust that the universe (or whatever belief you have) will take care of it in the right way for you. Having this trust in the way things come about leads to the most powerful results.
Day 5 — there was a shift. Something changed today. Suddenly, the inner child is calmer. He’s not running around trying to play with every thought that enters the room. The breath is easier. Sitting is more comfortable. The body is letting go. The mind still wanders, but I’m able to bring it back to the breath more effectively. Leaving the past and future aside, I am able to focus on the present moment. After four frustratingly ineffective days, it is the first glimpse that my meditation practice is starting to work. I have a glimmer of hope that I will reconnect with the self that once was, free of ego, trusting that everything in life will happen just as it was meant to be.
Tomorrow, I will work more on setting intentions, then tossing them free. I will let go of desires, but trust that what I put my attention on will come to be. Things come be to, not from a place of need and fear of loss, but from a place of trust and confidence that what will be, will be. In anything you are trying to achieve in life, put your best work in, then use this thought process and meditation to set it free, and you will see that it will be more effective. This works for accomplishing life goals or running a small business. When you try to control all outcomes you stifle the energy flow. Open it up, and your life is a realm of possibilities.
I will continue writing as I go through the 21-day meditation challenge. I hope that reading this inspires you to join me, or perhaps put the next 21-day challenge on your calendars. As winter is a time of introspection, it is a great time to start a meditation practice.