Tuesday, Mar 21st

Gratitude Meditation

There’s a brief description of this exercise here.

Today I focused my meditation on my two-year-old. This was partly because we had a serious conflict today, and I think it can be helpful for me (when I have space for it) to remind myself of how grateful I am for her presence in my life. It certainly helped; I felt much closer to her afterwards.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, Mar 15th

Mindfulness Meditation

There’s a brief description of this exercise here.

I have days where I think I might be getting better at this. Not amazingly better, mind you, because I still catch my mind wandering off on tangents or trying to tell itself stories. But I think regularly practicing this meditation (and I’ve been doing it for almost two months now, a new record for me) has actually improved my ability to identify thoughts coming up without sinking into them.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, Mar 9th

Loving-Kindness Meditation

There is a description of this meditation on the Exercises page. One note: I find that if I’m feeling more “closed” or unhappy, I do better to focus on just the easiest part of the meditation – whichever target is the easiest for me to generate genuine warm and loving feelings. Those feelings are the important benefit, rather than being able to work all the way through the list. There will be other days when it’s easier, when it feels natural to extend this sense of loving-kindness to the entire world.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, Feb 28th

Gratitude Meditation

Focusing on gratitude never fails to make my day better. Today I decided to spend a little time in focused gratitude meditation.

The stillmind site has some simple instructions for gratitude meditation, which focus on gratitude for the world around us, our friends and family, ourselves, and our life. It’s a good place to start, but if that seems too long or if you want to try something different, it’s entirely possible to build a custom meditation for yourself. I’ll sometimes choose a single thing in my life, or a single relationship, and spend my meditation time focusing in on all the ways I’m grateful for that one thing.

Today I chose my hands. I thought about their sense of well-being, and how grateful I am that they do their (many) jobs without pain. I thought of all the things I do with my hands: working, holding children, playing viola, typing… My hands do amazing things every day, and I am definitely grateful for them.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, Feb 22nd

Mindfulness Meditation

I debated over whether to include a mindfulness meditation exercise in my rotation, since I’m already doing ten minutes of it each morning. But eventually I decided to try it out, for two reasons: 1) a little more is unlikely to hurt, and 2) given my track record, it’s entirely possible that my morning meditation routine won’t last too long.

If you haven’t tried it before, the basic idea of mindfulness meditation is to focus your awareness on a physical sensation or process – the breath is a popular choice – and try to keep it there. As you notice your mind wandering (and it will), gently bring it back to the breath. In theory one gets better at this; I’m not sure I’ve ever maintained a practice long enough to notice real improvement.

I have noticed some benefits, though, even with my sketchy practice. I’ve had occasional moments of enhanced awareness, where I can stay distant enough from my thoughts that instead of being absorbed in them, I can just observe them, as though I was watching a stranger. Those small moments have been interesting and useful enough that I keep coming back to try again.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, Feb 16th

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Meditation is like eating salad – everyone seems to agree you should do it, but most of us don’t. Part of the hurdle is that it seems to require a regular practice, which is much more daunting than a one-time effort. Committing 10-20 minutes today is one thing; committing 10-20 minutes every day forever is something that few of us are willing to undertake.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have recently started a 10-minute-per-morning mindfulness meditation practice. Also in the interest of full disclosure, this isn’t the first time I’ve started a meditation practice. I can only assume it won’t be the last.

But for this project my plan is to do only occasional meditations, no more than one per week. Today’s will be loving-kindness meditation.

There are lots of descriptions of how to do this meditation, so if you don’t connect with the one below, feel free to find your own. I like to keep mine very simple. I start with a person for whom it’s easy to feel loving-kindness, and think:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be healthy.
  • May you be safe.
  • May you feel peace.

If you haven’t done this before, it’s important to think the words slowly, really savor them, and try to generate a genuine feeling of love and compassion. Then I move on to someone who generates slightly less positive feelings in me, and repeat. I keep going until I can generate those feelings of love and compassion for someone with whom I’m currently struggling. I think it’s important to get yourself in there as well, wherever makes sense for you.

Happy Thursday!