I’ve done it five times since last Thursday.
And for more than five minutes!
Folks….that’s huge for me.
And no…It’s not what you’re thinking, although I’m sure Rocket-man would have liked it to be!
I’m an early riser which is curious since I’m often a tossing, turning, and wide-awake wreck on most nights. I envy Rocket-man who sleeps like a rock; he’s gone within two blinks of an eye when his head hits the pillow. So, last Thursday morning (at precisely 4:30) I was at the kitchen sink getting ready to prepare my morning espresso. I’m moving through quicksand with one eye open, literally as I reach for the can of espresso coffee from the cupboard. Rocket-man is dead to the world and so is The Poodle. Truthfully, this is how I like it in the morning. Absolutely quiet. No T.V. news delivering doomsday headlines…no expectations to throw the squeaky ball from The Poodle. Just sweet nothingness…quiet. A thought struck me as I reached for the espresso pot: You should try to meditate…now is the perfect time.
I’ve been struggling with this whole meditation thing for quite some time. God knows I needed a solid practice last year with all that I went through in Arizona but I couldn’t seem to make it work for me. Every day there seemed to be one catastrophe or another to deal with. I reasoned that my long walks in the Arizona desert were enough to manage my stress levels…or, once home, that punching a bag at my favorite workout studio SWEAT, would release the pounds of frustration, anger and sadness I was carrying around. And while those outlets, and others, were helpful, I felt that something was still missing in my attempt to handle the stressors—both physical and emotional—in my life.
And now, with the winds of change in the air bringing more stress with it, I know it’s now or never. So…in that moment I made a change to my early morning routine.
I put the pot down, picked up my iPhone, and made for the sofa. Wrapping a blanket around me, I situated myself on the sofa, trying to get as comfortable as possible. My knees won’t allow for a true lotus position (and quite frankly, it is not necessary to the practice) so I simply sat cross-legged. I pulled up the clock function on my phone and set the countdown timer for fifteen minutes.
FIFTEEN MINUTES…are you nuts?, screamed a voice on my left shoulder. That’s very ambitious missy considering you‘ve yet to make it past five minutes. You’ll never make it!
The journey begins with a single step, reminded the little voice on my right shoulder.
I closed my eyes and began focusing on my breath. Inhaling…exhaling. I notice my breath is very choppy at first. How could this be? The chickens aren’t even up yet at this hour! I’ve just rolled out of bed literally minutes ago and there isn’t a drop of caffeine in me; truly, my day has not even started! I couldn’t seem to slow my breath down nor bring any sort of rhythm to it. Negative thoughts immediately flooded the space between breaths.
NO. Not this time. I’m going to see this through. No judgements…just let it go…let it go.
Now…back to the breath.
Breathe in…breathe out. Breathe in…breathe out.
And so it began.
It took a few minutes but eventually my breathing evened out. My breath became much less shallower. With each inhalation and exhalation I was able to bring a fullness to each breath; It became deeper and slower. Slow inhalations followed by even slower exhalations. Each time a thought floated into my head space—and there were many—I’d accept it without admonishment and then I’d gently let it go. Back to the breath, said the little voice followed by my impromptu mantra: I breathe in…I breathe out.
…..until the dainty ringtone sounded on my phone, signaling the end of the session.
Fifteen minutes. Wow.
I opened my eyes. I didn’t move for a moment or two. I broke out into a smile.
Did I reach some altered state? Did I have some brilliant stroke of insight that would change my world or that of another?
But I did feel serenely calm and light as a feather as if the burdens in my world had vanished into thin air. For fifteen minutes (well, make that thirteen because it took a few minutes to find my rhythm) I was absolutely free from a near constant rumination of negativity. Oh the bliss I felt in that!
Since Thursday, I’ve committed myself to four other early morning sessions on the sofa. Yesterday, fueled by a heightened sense of accomplishment, I increased the time by two minutes confident that I was becoming really good at this meditation practice. I was served a plate of humble pie however. I became quite fidgety and couldn’t shake it…my mind wandering all over the place like an action-packed movie. I’ll confess to a peek at my phone to determine the time left. With a sigh I noted that I still had another five minutes to go! So, I ended the session early. This was not giving up by any means! What I did learn from this “imperfect” session was that I was able end it without beating myself up —something I would have assuredly done a week ago.
Just like life, some days will be easier than others. It’s part of the journey. If only for a day…I am very excited about this new morning routine. I’m not sure where it will take me but that’s Okay. If it gets me through the roller coaster of life with more grace, compassion, and acceptance, I’ll be enormously grateful.