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The Results Are In — Experiment No. 1, Day 30

Buddha dog

David began a 30-day daily meditation experiment on April 6, 2009.  The original post is here. David’s progress log is here.

Well, the first official Raptitude experiment has come to an end.  I just got up from my final meditation session. As far as I can tell, I am not enlightened.  I can neither hear the mountain stream nor make the sound of one hand clapping.

But I will never be the same.

If you’ve ever had trouble meditating, you might appreciate this account.

I have wanted to try meditating on a daily basis for a long time and I am glad I did it this way, accountable to you, the reader.  Because let me tell you, if I didn’t tell anybody I was trying this, I would have quit in the first week.  I’ve left detailed entries in my experiment log, but I’ll recap the highlights here.

That first week was rough.  I could not decide on a method, so I tried a few, with discouraging results.  On Day 5, I decided to settle on a (seemingly) simple and well-known method called vipassana. I think I even announced in my progress log that my confusion about methods was over, because I’d found plain instructions for a tried and true method.  Hah!

When I actually tried it, I just could not get past the fact that I wasn’t sure I understood the directions.  Sitting down with a mind full of doubts makes it difficult to believe that there is any constructive purpose to what you’re doing.

This confusion mounted and soon became frustration.  I began to dread my sessions.  It began to feel like I was just “putting in time,” and had lost interest in actually meditating.  My entry for Day 8 captures my frustration well, and served as a catharsis for the whole experiment:

An unfocused, frustrating session.  More indecision and doubt about methods again.  I just don’t know where to put my damn attention.  There is just such a broad variety of techniques, and each seems to present itself as the way to do it.  Some literature says to “Observe bodily sensations as they arise,” but my body has about four hundred sensations at once.  What am I looking at?  How did I ever do this comfortably before?   Also very common is, “observe the breath.” Some say to observe it at the tip of the nostrils, others say observe a point on the abdomen above the navel, others say to focus on the rising and falling sensation.  The rising and falling of what? Sometimes I know the answer to that.  Right now I don’t.

I came to the mat with fear today, and it consumed me the whole time.  The most persistent thought I had today was “I don’t want this.  I don’t want to look at my breath.  I don’t want to observe the feeling of not wanting to look at my breath. I don’t want to witness a point above my navel.  I don’t care.” Certainly not a new one, but I had not yet experienced it with today’s level of intensity.

I think that this is the juncture where most people up and say “Meditation is just not for me.  I can’t do it, or at least I don’t want to.”  I felt that today, and hard.  But I don’t trust those thoughts.  This is the juncture where I get intrigued.  I want to unravel this.

I seem to have this intense aversion to trusting a particular book or website.  Why would there be so many different techniques, with such specific instructions if one is just as good as the other? With most of them I just feel so overwhelmingly uncomfortable or bored.  I want to examine the discomfort and boredom, see where they’re coming from, but if I examine them, then I’ve lost sight of my breath or whatever the hell else I’m not supposed to lose sight of, as prescribed by my method du jour.

This turned into a rant.  Good.  I need to get these thoughts out.  I was just going to post something short and vague here; I didn’t want to explore these feelings openly.  But I’m glad I did.  I feel growth.  Tomorrow, I will choose another method, and see what happens.  Even if I end up posting twenty-two more rants like this, I will have discovered quite a bit.

A Free Approach

Trying to adhere to traditional methods made me feel like I was subjecting myself to something I knew I didn’t like, just to get to the results.  And that didn’t seem like the right thing to do.  Attempting repeated sessions of vipassana meditation when I knew I didn’t want to felt a lot like that spring I spent running in the early morning when I secretly hated running and early mornings, all just because I wanted to look fit.

Salvation came when I went with my heart.  I adopted my own method, a frankenstein of other meditations and relaxation techniques I had tried and liked:

I’ve taken a free-form approach.  I do not concentrate on any one phenomenon.  I just sit and watch.  I watch my body, to see what it’s doing.  I watch the texture of the sensations of my body, the texture of the sounds around me, the air around me, the texture of my thoughts.  I just kind of feel them out.  When I notice I’m thinking, I look at the thought.

Most importantly, I’m not trying to do anything.  No active concentration. Far easier and calmer.  I make no effort to keep my gaze in one place, both visually and mentally.  I look around the room if I want, but usually I don’t feel a desire to.  Whatever my orientation is, it’s enough; no modifications necessary.  If I feel I need to change something, I look at that need and see what happens to it.

I continued with this method for the rest of the month, though I did end up splitting my 20-minute sessions into smaller ones.  I was surprised at how much my ability to relax and pay attention varied.  I ended some sessions in pure, unbridled bliss, and in other sessions I was not able to step out of my thinking for even a moment.  Towards the end of the month I stopped timing the sessions, and even found myself doing them at work when I had a minute or two.  A few minutes can last a long time when you’re not doing anything.

So even after this whole month, I have not adopted a regular, scheduled practice.  And I’m fine with that.  I used to think I should meditate precisely when I don’t feel like it, but I don’t any more.  I didn’t like the bitter results I got when I tried to mix duty with meditation.  Now, I do it when I want, and I find myself wanting to a lot more.

What I Have Learned

  • I need a teacher if I want to fully commit to traditional meditation methods.  I don’t believe I can teach myself.  I am excited at this idea, but my homegrown method is meeting my needs at the moment.
  • Frequent, shorter sessions did a lot more for me, in terms of bringing me to a mindful state, than long ones.  I would like to eventually get into longer sessions, but I will wait until I have a teacher.  I like having a few 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day, and occasionally a longer one.
  • Sleepiness is a huge obstacle. When I came to my session with an upset stomach, or an upset mind, I was still often able to observe my lackluster physical and emotional states for what they were.  But I was never able to observe sleepiness without it taking me over.  I did most of my meditations with my eyes open, but I’d still find myself slipping away so easily.  It did make me aware of the fact that I wasn’t getting enough sleep though.
  • Wants arise all the time, and most often I just react to them without even realizing that a desire actually occurred.  This is the current state of humanity, for the most part: constant reaction with no conscious awareness of why.  Even while I wasn’t meditating, I was much more aware of the sensation of a desire arising, and the tendency to lean towards it.  If suddenly I felt any kind of anxiety, I knew it was because a thought triggered a want.  In my clearer moments, I could easily identify the source of the want, observe how it feels physically, and dismiss it.  There is a lot of personal power to be found in this, and I’m excited to look into it further.
  • Meditation makes it obvious how I’m neglecting my body. I mentioned how obvious my lack of sleep became, but I also noticed a not-so-fit texture to my breathing.  I’ve let my cardio slip, and I can’t deny it.  When I ended up coming to the mat with some caffeine or alcohol in my system, I really noticed how much they interfere with concentration and mindfulness.  As well, after overeating I noticed that my body felt profoundly drained and sluggish, feelings that I would otherwise just distract myself from.
  • The purpose of fidgeting was revealed to me. This is one of the most interesting revelations I had.  While I was in meditation I began to notice the occasional impulse to bite my lip, move my toes, or tongue the backs of my teeth.  It was quite a weird sensation to just observe a fidgeting impulse without following it.  And then I started to notice the impulse when I wasn’t meditating, and I was alarmed to find how often I did it, and how many forms it took.  Any time I felt self-conscious, or I was being intolerant of someone else’s behavior, my body would unconsciously do something: I’d bite my lip, play with my pen, or my jaw would tense.  I realized that fidgeting is an attempt to distract oneself from the reality of what’s happening.  When I cease the fidgeting, I cease escaping from the moment.  I think this discovery has some huge implications, and I’ll explore them in a future post.
  • There is a direct correlation between my mind’s clarity and my apartment’s cleanliness. When my mind was clear, I seemed to place much more value on keeping my space in order.  I had a genuine desire to clean up, and I loved it.  I have also found it far easier to stay organized when I meditated regularly.  This is having a significant positive impact on my productivity.  You should see my desk at work.
  • Acceptance must start with the physical, not just include it. This is the most potent discovery I made, without a doubt.  To my mind, total acceptance of the moment is happiness.  I have learned a lot about how to achieve that state by putting my thinking into perspective, but I found it very hard to do this when I was, say, exhausted, or in a stuffy room.  Physical distress really makes it hard to get your mind to agree with what is happening.  I already knew that, but I did not realize how subtle physical uneasiness can be and still prevent total acceptance.  The fidgeting I mentioned is an example of physical resistance to the moment.  Meditating taught me that acceptance begins with a physical “acceptance reflex.”  In other words, I’m training my body to accept situations first.  If there is any tension anywhere, such as in my jaw, or in my breathing, that resistance is enough to put a ceiling on how comfortable my mind can be with the moment.  Resistance short-circuits happiness.  I have a new-found awareness for how finely-tuned my body is to the mental terrain of each moment, and I want to hone that acceptance reflex.  I’ll clarify what I mean by this in its own post, soon.

My 30 days did not exactly revolutionize my life or my state of mind, and I would not call myself an experienced or skillful meditator.  In fact, formal sitting meditation is something I almost feel like I’ve gotten worse at.  But do I know that I’ve opened the doors to a major quality-of-life skill with that last bullet point.  I will continue with these sessions informally and without a schedule.  I didn’t become a Buddha, but I have made progress I will never lose.

Anyway, as for Raptitude Experiment No. 1, that’s a wrap.  Not what I expected, but I am definitely a happy camper.

Experiment No. 2 is coming up soon, and this time I’ll be exploring the physical realm, with the help of an ancient Russian implement.  Stay tuned.


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Roger - A Content Life May 6, 2009 at 6:26 am


Great wrap up!

Based on my limited meditation experience, you learned about what I would have expected you to learn. I do think that daily meditation is more helpful than sporadic mediation.

Many people believe that they should have some sort of unusual enlightening experience during meditation. This generally doesn’t happen. Most sects of Buddhism believe that meditation leads to enlightenment, but it’s interesting to not that Zen Buddhism believes that meditation IS enlightenment.

I look forward to your next 30 day experiment!

Roger – A Content Life’s last blog post..Meditation for Beginners (Week 1) – Introduction

Lisis May 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

Well… experiment number 2 sounds intriguing (and a little naughty!) Physical realm with Russian implements, huh? Can’t wait to hear about that one. ;-)

As for #1, I’m really impressed that you did it for the full 30 days. There really are so many different techniques and methods that it gets overwhelming and frustrating. I don’t know if you read “Eat, Pray, Love” (spiritual chick Lit) but towards the end her spiritual teacher in Bali tells her she’s basically trying too hard. All those other methods are too complicated. His method? Sit and smile. That’s it.

Oh, and you can’t *become* a Buddha because you already ARE a Buddha. All the other stuff that feels non-Buddha-like is mere illusion and distraction. It will melt away when the time is right revealing to you the Buddha most of us already see. You are already there. =-)

Lisis’s last blog post..My Garden is Trying to Tell Me Something

Judy Martin May 6, 2009 at 7:05 am

Also impressed that you made it 30-days. I think enlightenment is a journey – not a destination. Hate to sound clicheish.

Still, just five minutes a day, I believe, can shift your life and consciousness for one reason – discipline. It’s just a mind over body, desire and ego thing. It’s a great practice to break the mind – although I’d be curious to hear if you were ever able to get any real brain wave silence in your 30-days.

Judy Martin’s last blog post..Australian Island Caretaker: Ben Southall’s Work Life Path

Jay Schryer May 6, 2009 at 7:52 am

Thanks for posting this, and blazing the trail for me. I’m starting my own 30-day meditation experiment soon, with Roger’s help. It has been helpful to read over your experiences, to see what I might be in for!

Jay Schryer’s last blog post..Naming Desires

Ian | Quantum Learning May 6, 2009 at 7:59 am

I’m really impressed. My attempts at regular meditation usually fail after a couple of days. And I’ve never even started with the Russian implement!

Ian | Quantum Learning’s last blog post..Falling in love does not make you telepathic

David May 6, 2009 at 8:13 am

@ Judy — Hi Judy, welcome to Raptitude. I was joking about the enlightenment stuff. My aim was just to become more aware of my moment-to-moment thinking, and I definitely achieved that. I’m really just scoring the surface here; I see much more meditation in my future. As for brainwave silence, I think that would make me dead, wouldn’t it? :)

@ Lisis — That’s what it felt like a lot of the time: that I was trying too hard. I really started to make more progress when I stopped trying to do anything.

@ Roger — Enlightenment really isn’t a concern to me. I often even use the word anymore, except when I’m joking around. My goal was only to improve my skills of acceptance and letting go of thoughts, and I’m pleased at the progress I made in such a short time.

Experiment No. 2 will be interesting, you’ll see what I mean soon. :)

David May 6, 2009 at 8:39 am

@ Ian — As you can probably tell, it was rough at first. I guess the first thing everyone notices when they sit down to meditate is that they are completely crazy. The mind is just nuts if you ever stop to look at it.

If you try it, you will grow to love and hate the Russian implement!

@ Jay — I’m excited to read about your experiences Jay, I’m going to try Roger’s Buddhist meditation too.

Tim May 6, 2009 at 9:33 am

Hi David:

Thanks for sharing your insights. Even though you may not have accomplished the full enlightenment that you hoped for, it sounds like you learned a great deal about yourself.

I agree with your observation that you probably need a teacher. About 10 years ago, I took a few months worth of yoga classes at my local YMCA. These classes included some meditation at the end. I walked out of those classes feeling more calm and more at peace with my life than I can remember. It also helped me get through some emotional challenges that I was facing at the time and some back problems.

Today I do not take any yoga classes, but I do practice some yoga poses. This has helped me, but I’m not sure if I consider it full yoga because I don’t focus on my breathing nearly as much as I did when I took the classes. I think I need to go back and have that teacher guiding me — at least for a while.

Tim’s last blog post..J.K. Rowling Commencement Address

Positively Present May 6, 2009 at 11:10 am

Good for you for trying something out. It seems like you learned a lot from this experimental experience and that’s great! Isn’t that what experiments are all about? I really enjoyed reading your recap and I can’t to hear more about the next experiment…

Positively Present’s last blog post..13 ways you distort your thoughts (and how to stop doing it)

David May 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Doing this as a public experiment is the only thing that made it work. I had people to be accountable to, so I didn’t quit. I like the idea of experiments.

Nadia - Happy Lotus May 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Hi David,

I am reading this post after spending the day at my class for how to be a meditation teacher. Needless to say it is interesting to read this after having spent 8 hours learning about teaching meditation.

I think all that you experienced is very normal and good for you for sharing all that you learned. Some people feel tremendous pressure to reach bliss upon meditating and that is something that takes time.

If you are looking for a teacher, I have two suggestions. There are many cd’s that lead you through guided meditations. I have an excellent one which I can copy and send to you. Another suggestion is that there is this great book by Ram Dass where he explores all kinds of meditation and it may help you find a method that really resonates with you.

Like all the others have said, I look forward to experiment number two!

Nadia – Happy Lotus’s last blog post..604,800 Amazing Options

David May 6, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Thanks Nadia. It wasn’t so much pressure of ‘reaching’ anything that made it tough at first. I just didn’t know what to do with my mind. I didn’t know where to put it. When I had one bad session, it made the next one intimidating and I ended up feeling a strong aversion. But I got that sorted out.

I did not respond well to the guided meditation CD I tried, but I may try it again. I did, however, really like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s guided meditations, I am a fan of his. I would really like to read Ram Dass too but I have an embarrassing backlog of material to read. Definitely on the list though.

Experiment No. 2 will be posted next week. :)

Jeffrey | Eating In The Now Teacher May 7, 2009 at 9:07 am

If you were able to get this : “Whatever my orientation is, it’s enough; no modifications necessary.” from meditation, you have made a huge shift.

Just imagine how people there are that can’t accept their orientation – or more appropriately, life situation. It’s funny that you were just talking about your body situation but whether you knew it or not, you were making a great realization for acceptance in general.

Being comfortable with your breath all during the day can be more therapeutic than long 20 minute sessions. I figure if I can be more present in 5 minutes and really be there then it’s better than trying to do 20 minutes where I can’t even break through my thoughts to find my breath.

Jeffrey | Eating In The Now Teacher’s last blog post..15 Ways To Get The Most Enjoyment From The Food You Eat

kara May 7, 2009 at 9:56 am

I hear ya. Maybe it’s the caffeine – but my brain will not settle down during the day.[Meditation = some form of torture.]
And when it does – I fall asleep…
Thanks for sharing your experience.

kara’s last blog post..Half Marathon Rundown

Alex May 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

haha like your jestful reference to a new earth. besides, you are the mountain stream, never mind hear it =D

really liked the way it was written. was gripped from “if you’ve ever had trouble meditating”. the power of a hook line :)

i’ve played with vipassna. i dunno. to me, meditating isn’t a cross-legged at sunrise in your cave thing as much as a state of consciousness that you’re in throughout the day.

i think the frustration on day 8 is just the mind looking for something, struggling, to do and effort at instead of just be.

definitely agree about sleepiness.

as far as frequent shorter sessions – that’s why i see it more as a mode of consciousness because then you can meditate throughout the day as you’re doing things and it becomes the dominant way that you are – no more “doing” about it.

i really found the sedona method helpful as far as meditating goes. you’ll find loads of it online but the basic premise is that you can let feelings go.

as an experiment, next time the mind comes in or you’re having trouble or a thought pops up that isn’t constructive, allow yourself to fully feel the feeling, go into it proper, and then ask yourself, “can i let this go?” and feel the space around it. feel like you flop onto a bed. allow it to be released, unravel, dissolve, unwind.

awesome account though all round. really personal and insightful.

talk to you soon

Alex’s last blog post..3AM Speed Chess Focus

David May 7, 2009 at 12:06 pm

@ Alex — Hi Alex. You got it, that was right out of A New Earth. I was being facetious though.

I have been employing mindfulness as a default state for a long time, this experiment was really about dedicated sitting meditation. But I found that it greatly increased my patience and capacity for mindfulness.

I hear so many mentions of the Sedona Method; it really sounds like something I should check out.

@ Kara — Caffeine really made me feel disoriented and sick when I closed my eyes. It’s starting to feel like a nasty drug, when I stop to observe how my body responds to it. I may quit the casual coffee drinking soon.

@ Jeffry — Hi Jeffry, thanks for your comment. Yeah, one of my biggest discoveries was how important it is to accept my physical orientation as a habit, if I want to be able to ever accept what my mind is doing. If I don’t root out those physical impositions, trying to relax mentally is like the Princess and the Pea: there’s something down there that I can’t see that won’t let me accept where I am. That was a big breakthrough for me.

Lance May 7, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Hi David,
I appreciate this post very much. I’ve toyed with meditation off and on over the last six months (and it seems like more off than on). So, this is good to read – and know that maybe if I just stick with it, and really go with what feels right for me, at this moment, I can make this a more regular practice. You’ve given me inspiration to pick this back up again – thank you!

Hilda May 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Hi David,
well done on completing the full 30 days. I know how tough that would have been. I struggled on and off with trying to meditate for two years until I did a course in Primordial Sound Meditation, and now, like Nadia, I’m training to be a teacher. I do think it will help you to find a teacher.

It was interesting what you were saying about your need for more sleep. What we’re taught in PSM is that when people begin to meditate on a daily basis it’s quite common for them to feel whacked! And it’s good to get as much extra sleep during that time as your schedule will allow. But once your body gets used to having daily meditation sessions, you will then feel energised afterwards instead of tired.

Also, they tell us that it’s not good to eat before meditating as it slows the metabolism way down – so you’re bound to feel sluggish on that front too.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Looking forward to the next one :-)

David May 7, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Thanks Hilda, I’m not sure when I will take the plunge and find a teacher, but I know it’s something I will do. I just looked up primordial sound meditation and I’m really intrigued. Do you have any online resources you recommend?

Hi Lance. I’m glad this was useful to you. Historically, I’ve had a tendency to quit things a bit early, and time and time again life shows me that usually there are great rewards just beyond the rough part where I often give up. I hope you do take another whack at it, this was definitely rewarding for me.

Angie May 7, 2009 at 11:26 pm

This was great! I really liked your description of your sensory impulses and how you started noticing those. It reminds me of sitting in a classroom and you have the guy next to you who can’t stop shaking his leg, just so he can stand sitting there. Some of us are very sensitive when it comes to sensory issues- it is great that this became apparent to you.
When I first tried meditation, my challenges were more mental than physical- these rogue thoughts that made no sense, ‘buttercup’ duh!!! ‘what the??” LOL

Hilda May 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

Hi David,

I’m afraid I don’t have any online resources to recommend to you. It’s teachers are trained by the Chopra centre and they’re very particular that it’s done through four face-to-face sessions! They do have teachers all over the world, and you can find a listing on chopra.com. They do tend to be expensive (but for me it was worth it).

However, Deepak Chopra does describe a mediation using So-Hum as an alternative to PSM in his books The Seven Spiritual Law of Yoga and Synchrodestiny (or The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire in the US).

Hilda’s last blog post..Advice from my future (and wiser) self

Lori May 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Hi David!

What a fantastic post. I struggle with meditation because I have a very over-active mind. I can relate to every single one of the lessons you included, especially the ones about wants arising, neglecting my body, and fidgeting to escape the present.

I love that meditation reveals to me both who I want to be and who I am actually being; AND makes it easier to bridge the gap by filling me with peace and clarity.

Thanks again for sharing these thoughts :)


Lori’s last blog post..Why Is Aging Seen as So Negative?

Alison | Quest for Balance May 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Hi, David. What an interesting experiment. I especially like that you included your bitter, negative thoughts, because these seem very “real” to me. I also have a hard time letting go of all of the thoughts (and fears, and worries) swirling around my mind at all hours of the day and night, but on those rare (and non-forced) occasions when I *am* able to, it feels quite liberating. I think you are onto something here, and I look forward to reading about public experiment #2!

Alison | Quest for Balance’s last blog post..Depression: So Many Shades of Blue

David May 13, 2009 at 8:17 pm

@ Angie —

It reminds me of sitting in a classroom and you have the guy next to you who can’t stop shaking his leg, just so he can stand sitting there.

This honestly made me laugh out loud Angie. I went to school with that guy too! Actually there were lots of them. I’ve noticed people doing that very thing (always guys though… hmm) and it made me grateful that I’m not that restless. But sometimes I am, it just manifests itself in other ways.

@ Hilda — No problem Hilda! Thanks for the link. :)

@ Lori — My mind is nuts too. It’s disturbing. In fact, sitting down to look at exactly how nuts it is was really scary sometimes. That fascinates me, that something so integral is utterly out of my control. I sure did find out a lot though.

@ Alison — Yeah it felt good to get those negative thoughts down in words. I was really agitated! Experiment No. 2 will be announced on Friday.

Olga September 30, 2009 at 8:18 am

Dear David,

Yes it is absolutely esential to have a teacher, you cant learn to meditate from books – you need a guide – that is for sure. What I have learned from my own experience is that if you want to try a particular technique, to see if it works, to see if it gives real benefit – try it for extended period – once a week, or even an hour per day is not enough.
Few years ago I was lucky to come across Vipasana meditation :). It have changed me so much – gave me insight into many things, into life, into what I call myself. There are 10 day vipasana meditation courses that are held constantly all around the world. There they teach you, there you have a teacher who answers your questions about the technique and gives you instructions. All the details you will find @ http://www.dhamma.org . Try ;)
Be happy!

Sarah Taylor February 4, 2011 at 2:07 am

I loved this! I teach meditation and what you experienced was quite normal. There seems to be a wall people hit and resistance in many forms takes over. But you didn’t succumb. You kept showing up and meeting the moment – how you were each day and each moment physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically. And you seemed to release attachment to your practice being “just so”.

Doubt is one of the hindrances, according to The Buddha. It can arise as doubt in meditation itself, doubt in which practice in which to engage, doubt in one’s ability, doubt that the clarity and ease one experienced just the day before was even “real” and on and on and on. Aaaah, doubt. But you kept going!

Wise of you to finally pick a practice or method and stick with it, yet allow for movement and flexibility within that. It is often recommended one decides on a practice and then stick to it for 40 days. This is beneficial for many reasons, one of which being that it uproots “grass is greener” craving and you simply have to meet and go deeply in to your choice.

Many meditators start a practice and expect the sky to open up and their life to suddenly change. You were wise in noticing the “small” ways awareness, clarity, presence and acceptance began to show itself in your daily life. Meditation has helped change my life, utterly and completely. But it creeps up on you.

I’m so glad I found your site.

~ Sarah

Gita Madhu November 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I have not read this post in too great a detail but my father (who was well versed in forms of meditation-both traditional Hindu methods as he was a scholarly Brahmin, and Buddhist methods-he had almost apprenticed with a Buddhist monk friend of his who later became a Theravada) advised very short sessions. In fact, his method was one second meditation.
The meditations he personally taught me were:
1. A form of the TM-I used his given mantra of Om Namo Bhagavathe (May I be like Thee). I used to do it in any comfortable posture, 5 minutes with eyes open , reciting the mantra loudly, 5 minutes with eyes closed and reciting the mantra in a lower voice, lastly five minutes with eyes closed uttering the mantra in the mind. He used to ask me to imagine the sound coming from somewhere-maybe a temple
2. Points of contact -few seconds-feel the points of contact of the body. It dispels fatigue among other things. I used this when I had to work on lengthy translations with tight deadlines-day and night work and almost no sleep.
3. Priming the senses meditation-again for a few seconds only (his logic is that we can only focus for a second or two at a time (he himself had sat long hours in dhyan in a room with no fan and mosquitoes etc). Just focus without words or too many words on each of the senses. Again this mode quickly provides a refreshed state both physically and mentally.
3. Panchabhoota-the five elements. He never taught this in much detail but the practice is to identify quickly with the five elements or to meditate on them. This also provides energy.
Shavasan or corpse pose meditation combined with total body (part by part awareness) is very handy
About sleepiness, I too had experienced this and do recall that Sri Aurobindo has written about it.
I really salute you! I wish my father was alive so I could show him your meditation log. He used to always talk about such scientific experimentation as he was a psychiatrist focussed on neuroscience.

Nathan March 27, 2012 at 6:12 am

It was interesting to read about your experience with meditation. I too have tried meditation and subjectively find extremely beneficial. I find it helps with living a pragmatic lifestyle.
What lead me to trying mediation was firstly realizing the absurdity and inconsistencies in people’s lives. It is like a lot of people go through life ignorant of their own mortality and the nature of their own experiences. I find myself a lot of the time wanting something, looking forward to something or overly caring and judging myself against other people. But after deconstructing a lot of these things it seems that my wants do in fact only cause anxiety, depression and angst.
I find meditation centres myself, outside of all the mental dissatisfactions and confusion I experience. Whether I am dissatisfied because I don’t know what I should be doing with my life or because I am caring about something and getting consumed by something which is truly arbitrary, meditation helps. It allows me to refocus, think about creating my own meaning in a world full of absurdity and to be free from pointless consuming thoughts.
However if you aren’t ready to let go and remove yourself from the mental processes experienced by people in the rat race of society, maybe meditation isn’t right for you.

prasad January 24, 2013 at 3:49 am

Dear David,
I came to your website through an FB Link. Your writings are very very clear and candid. I am very happy to have found your website and all its wonderful gifts of self exploration. I am also practicing meditation for some time and have experienced many of the experiences listed here. But you have a gift for putting them to words. Very good. you may browse http://www.vishwaamara.com which gives a lot of info on meditation and connecting to higher intelligence. All the best. Be full of Bliss.

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