The “Un-Challenge”: Can Meditation Help The World (Starting With Us)? I don’t think of myself as a particularly stressed out individual.  I do my best to roll with the punches; however, I’m certainly not immune to periodic moodiness- at times teetering dangerously on the edge of resentment.  (I mean, would it kill him to pick up his dirty socks and put them in the laundry?)  The question is, if I could find a way to let go of this, how would it help me – and the world at large?  Would I feel better?  Lash out fewer times?  Be healthier?  Be easier to be around?  “Pay it forward”, so to speak?

Back in our carefree twenties, Carl and I once took a meditation class and planned to incorporate the practice into our daily lives.  At the time, it was really just a trendy weekend date for us.  We both enjoyed the class and appreciated the principles, but we rarely made the time to practice what we’d learned.  And I have a feeling that meditation is one of those things that needs to be practiced in order to make a difference.

Now, with two little ones at home, we almost never find a solitary moment.  As such, finding the time and energy for a meditation practice seems next to impossible.  Still, it’s likely we need it now more than ever.  Life has a way of getting as busy as we let it get, so we’re going to find out if it’s worth it to make time for meditation every day.

Our Challenge

This week’s challenge (or should I say “un-challenge”, since the idea of a goal is counterproductive to a meditation practice) will be to see if we can find a way to incorporate daily meditation into our lives.  And to see what impact it has on our lives and the lives of those around us.

Now, I know that one week is a very short time to develop a practice of anything, but at least it’s a start.  We’ll meditate twice a day each day for 20 minutes – once in the morning and once at night.  At the end of the week, we’ll share our pulses, blood pressure readings and general feelings from both before and after.  And we’ll decide if we should continue the practice for a while – or forever.

We’d love to hear your meditation stories.  And please stay tuned for ours.  “Namaste”.

Updated June 30, 2011 by Andrea

Our Tale

Both Carl and I feel that one week (and a short week at that) is not much time to really know how well a meditation practice works.  I’m going to share this week’s process with you; however, we’ll likely report back in another week or two with a much-needed update.  Please feel free to go to Our Findings now and skip the details.

The Method – Keep It Simple

And just how did we meditate?  We started with some investigation to see which methods claimed the most rewards.  The “hottest” practice seemed to be transcendental meditation – the kind reportedly practiced by a number of celebrities.  Howard Stern, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman and many others claim to practice this particular brand.

I browsed around for some instructions on how to do transcendental meditation, but most sites were reluctant to dish out any of the details without sending us off for a course at one of their training facilities.  Personally, I found this too complicated a means to teach something founded in simplicity.

Finally, I found a site called Natural Healing For All, which had a brief description on how to do transcendental meditation.  Based on this description, it seemed pretty much like the “regular meditation” (for lack of a better term) that we learned a few years back.  As far as I can tell, the only real difference is that the transcendental brand is practiced in a more scheduled manner – 20 minutes per meditation practiced twice a day at roughly the same times each day.

Apparently, transcendental meditation is most typically practiced in the morning and late afternoon, but late afternoon is really not feasible for us.  Typically, one of us is working hard to try to complete whatever work (or blogging) we have planned for the day and the other one is trying to juggle the kids and dinner preparation.  So, we decided to meditate each morning and night (after the kids are in bed) for the recommended 20 minutes each.  We set a timer for 20 minutes each time so that we wouldn’t have to watch the clock.

The Mantra – Keep it Simple

We chose to use the soham mantra – or breath mantra.  Basically, “so” and “ham” are the sounds that our breath makes.  This mantra is about focusing on the breath.  (For more information, check out this article on SwamiJ.com.)  To my mind, it’s the easiest way to meditate.  Conveniently, it’s also the way we learned long ago.

Gurus, if I’ve incorrectly described anything here, please feel free to correct me and I will certainly update this post.

Timing

Here is how our meditations actually went down this week.

Monday.  Evening meditation at 9pm.  Our daughter kept getting up and we had to re-start the meditation twice.  Darn those accidental afternoon naps in the stroller!

Tuesday.  Morning mediation at 8am.  Evening meditation at 9pm.  All went well.

Wednesday.  Morning meditation at 11am (Andrea) and 1pm (Carl).  Better late than never.  Evening meditation at 9pm.

Thursday.  Morning meditation at 8am.  So far so good.

As you can see, we didn’t do a great job at staying on schedule despite our best efforts.

Our Findings

The Health

How do we feel?

Andrea says: “Good.  Really good.  I definitely feel more – well – centered.  I find that I am more focused at work and with the kids.  I’m still me (i.e. prone to moodiness), but I’m more able to let go of my frustrations.  Perhaps it’s all that practice at letting go of my thoughts.  Stuff is not getting to me this week.

Carl says: “More relaxed and refreshed.  Overall, the process was good, but the details need some changing.  I was able to relax more when lying down.  Twenty minutes just flew by.”

We promised to share our pulses and blood pressure readings, but they haven’t really changed.  We both have low to regular pulses (between 60 and 70) and low to regular blood pressure readings (100/60 and 120/80) already, so there’s not much room for change regardless.  We’ll let you know if these change more drastically over time.

The Practice

How did it go?  I have to say that this experiment is inconclusive.  We’re definitely going to keep meditating, but we may change up a few things.

It was more difficult than I thought carving out 20 minutes each morning and evening just to meditate.  At times, 20 minutes even seemed long.  Near the end of the meditation, my mind would sometimes wander and I would think “Is it over yet?”.  Carl did not have this issue.  Of course, there were times he fell asleep, which is also sort of an issue.

It is highly likely that it won’t seem so long when our practice becomes more efficient.  For now, we’re going to keep going with 20 minute sessions.  In the future, we may try to lower the time to 10 or 15 minutes and see if we still get the same results.

And who knows where it will go from there?  We certainly don’t.  We may try other times and other mantras.  But we are going to keep practicing.  After all, practice makes perfect – or, in this case – surrender.

The Goodness

Will daily meditation bring about world peace? Feed the hungry?  Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch.  But there is definitely goodness in it.  For us, meditation helped us live together – with one another and with others in our community.  It helped us be more positive and supportive.  And I can’t help thinking that only goodness can come of that.  Maybe we’re becoming responsible for the energy we’re giving out.  Out with the negative and in with the positive.

As for solving the world’s problems, I find it hard to imagine that the warmongers of today meditate twice a day.  It seems logical that war doesn’t stem from peace, but from lack of peace.  In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”  I think meditation has a place here.

 

 

Interested in our other challenges?  Check out The Goodness Challenge.


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Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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