There are a few things I want to achieve this year, but they're mostly just adjustments to the things I usually do, such as exercise a little less, because I've finally realised that pushing myself so hard all the time isn't getting me anywhere in terms of my goals. Otherwise, there's not really anything 'new' on my list of aspirations for the year. I've recently changed that, however.
Meditation sounds pretentious, and it sounds excruciating. It sounds spiritual, religious, and also quite restricted. Sometimes I feel people shouldn't meditate unless they're of a certain faith, otherwise it seems sort of insulting.
I've changed that outlook, though. I've realised that it's only if you mimic the spiritual side with beads and Buddha statues without understanding or acknowledging their importance. Otherwise, sitting, relaxing, breathing and clearing your mind doesn't 'belong' to anyone.
Of course the excruciation is still there - being such a physically and mentally active person, it's a horrible thought to sit still, do nothing, and try not to think. There's also the fear of failure, of your mind wandering and breaking the peaceful absence of thought.
But, what is there to achieve from meditation? Nothing tangible; if your mind does begin to wander, it's not the end of the world, it's just doing what a mind will. After all, dreams are just the meanderings of an unfocused mind. In fact, the whole purpose of meditation is to train your mind to still itself and allow yourself to step away from whatever is bothering you, and give you the ability to view it from afar, more rationally, once you've finished. That said, it's a given that your mind will wander. It's expected; it's allowed. The purpose of the activity, though, is to learn how to switch it back off again.
So, this month, I am going to endeavor to make meditating a habit. I used to do it once a week on my rest day when I had the time to zone out. I'd sit down beneath the running water in the shower and let myself switch off. It was easy because there were no distractions, and I make a bit of a ritual out of showering anyway. I like to take care of my body, and that's not just food and exercise, but also skin care, so I'm usually at my calmest and most attentive in the shower.
But that habit stopped. I don't know why, it just did. Perhaps because it was only for one day a week...
Fabletics, my all-time favourite sportswear brand, has just launched a social challenge called #Fabletics21 - it takes 21 days, research says, to make something a habit, and they have proposed four different options for participation: running (the easiest of all fitness routines), healthy eating, flat stomach, and meditation. I was about to disregard it all until I saw the last one, and then I was immediately reminded of how I used to do it, how I felt calmer back then, and also how tense and knotted I presently feel. It becomes most obvious at night when I go to bed because I just can't get comfortable. Something had changed, and while I didn't know what when I noticed it and still don't know now, at least I have an idea of how I can fix it.
So I'm going to participate in #Fabletics21 for meditation, and try to make it a habit. I know how to do it, I've read up on it in the past - that's how it was so effective for me when I used to do it - so it's just a matter of enforcing the time.
But I'm not starting just yet. I'm a few days late for the start of the month, but I thought I could at least time the end to coincide with the end of the month instead. So I'm going to take a few days to prepare - to work out when would be best and most practical to fit it in, to find something comfy to sit on, and to set it into my mind that this is something that has to be done.
I'm going to put together a few posts throughout the duration, including tips I've read previously and anything new I might learn.