Structured Meditation

I love my new Jon-Kabat Zinn Guided Mindfulness Meditation CDs.  They are the companion CDs to his book “Wherever You Go, There you Are” which I reviewed a while back.

These practice CDs are fabulous because they provide structure which makes me actually do it!  (not every day, but  3-4 days/week for 10-20 minutes)

Here is my mini review of the 4 CD package:

1. Sitting Meditations (10, 20 and 30 minutes) –  You can select a track based on how long you want to sit and he does some talking and some silence during the practice.  He does have a weird accent which I can’t quite place.  Unfortunately, I wonder about this during almost every sitting when I am not supposed to be thinking about anything.

2. Lying Down Meditations (10, 20, and 30 minutes) – these are nice.  It feels more like a “calgon take me away” activity if you get to lie down while you are doing it.  There is a whole CD dedicated to this which means it is totally OK!

3. Mountain Meditation and Lake Meditations – I tried the Mountain Meditation once. 30 whole minutes of trying to envision your self as a mountain.  Strong and solid and ever changing with the seasons, is what I recall.  A little bit out there, but kind of nice for a city girl to imagine she is nature for a bit.  Good to mix it up. I like the idea of being a mountain or a lake.  Sounds peaceful, right?

4. Silence with Bells – I have not tried this one yet.  It has one 30 minute practice where bells ring at set intervals and a second where bells ring at random times,  “sometimes quite chaotic”.  The CD cover says something about “cultivating equanimity in the face of the unexpected.”  This seems like something I might need to work up to.  I will start with the set internals of course (structure!), maybe this weekend, and eventually graduate to the chaos.  The good thing is, no distracting accent!

The CD cover also says “CAUTION: Do not use these programs while you are driving”.  That cracks me up.

And yes, CDs do still actually exist.  Kabat Zinn has upgraded from cassette tapes, but has not made the leap to digital tracks yet.  Luckily, I was bequeathed an old stereo w/CD player a while back which the universe must have intended for just for this purpose.

I did actually consider Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge which started yesterday.  They e-mail one guided meditation each day, but I could not find information about how long each session was.  How could I plan time to do these meditations with no specific time?  See, I need structure!  I got frustrated and realized I could just use my CDs that I love and just try to stick with it for 21 days (the amount of time it takes to develop a new habit.)  Not sure I am ready for every day, but now it is out there on the internet so I guess I have to try.

How’s the Meditation Going, You Ask?

The day after my last post on this topic, I sat for 10 minutes as planned.  The next day I had an early morning work meeting and lost traction.  Then it was the weekend and I forgot.  Then I remembered and decided I should wait until I read this book that was recommended to me “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn .

I downloaded the book to my Kindle and read it on the plane to and from my Thanksgiving holiday in Kentucky.  It’s a good book.  It is hard to stay awake when you are reading a book about mindfulness, but I did get through it and learned some neat stuff.  One thing I learned is that I am a pretty mindful person already.  I have some work to do, sure, but I am not your average Jane bopping around totally unaware.  Jon Kabat-Zinn does think meditation can help me “be all I can be” which is what I am striving for, so I will stick with it.  Here is a quote that makes me think this is so:

“…by investigating inwardly our own nature as beings and particularly, the nature of our own minds, through careful and systematic self-observation, we may be able to live lives of greater satisfaction, harmony, and wisdom” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Sounds good right?  I am not completely sure how the benefits of meditation and therapy are different, besides the fact that meditation is FREE!  I will have to investigate the other differences.  Jon Kabat-Zinn also recommends “meditating without advertising it.” He says instead of talking about it, just go do it.  Excellent point.

But before I stop talking about it, I will tell you that I did sit the past two days for 10 minutes each and my mind did not stop for one second.  (Boy, I wish I had coffee.  Should I have left the light off?  My apartment is so much quieter now that they built that building in front of my window.  I am so uncomfortable.  What should I get my mom for Christmas? It’s OK, just watch the thoughts float away in little bubbles.  I wonder if it is OK to picture little bubbles?)

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn (I do love that name!), it could be years before I am able to really quiet my mind.  That is a really long time!  Clearly, I won’t be able to achieve this goal until I have a comfy meditation pillow.