Yesterday I completed a 30-day meditation challenge. Inspired by Sakyong Mipham's book Running with the Mind of Meditation, in which he likens learning to meditate to learning to run in that the mind is like a muscle that can be strengthened through practice.
The key, as Mipham suggested, was to start small and build a base, just as one does in running. So my goal was to spend 10 minutes each day focusing on my breath, clearing my mind from the constant whirlwind of thoughts.
Simple but not easy. Just like running. A few times I felt like quitting. But then I wondered why I had such mental resistance to doing something as simple and peaceful as sitting or lying still for just 10 minutes, focusing on my breath, which -- as my teachers remind me in each Bikram yoga class -- is the most powerful tool you have.
I also know the important role of breathing from running. Calming, slowing and/or deepening my breath in challenging workouts, or when it gets hard in a race, is crucial and always beneficial.
It will take more than 30 days to learn to meditate, to get more comfortable, to find a sense of ease in it. The more I struggled nearly each day over the past 30 days with quieting my mind, being mindful, just here and now, the more I wondered why that was and how I could change it. I am curious, intrigued.
So next week I will start the 21-day Oprah and Deepak meditation challenge -- registration is free and you receive daily guided meditations for 21 days starting August 5.