6 things I learned from practicing meditation for 100 days
This summer I took some time away from teaching and my hatha practice to give my body a much-needed break. During this time I dedicated myself to developing a daily meditation practice. Thankfully I had some help from a small group of yogis who were also keen on the idea of supporting each other on a daily basis.... the 66 Day Challenge to develop a new habit Facebook group formed.
It wasn't that easy at the beginning. Sitting was not that hard because I sit regularly when I teach and encourage others to develop a good posture for sitting. Physically though I have long been nursing a strain along the inside of my lower right leg, and sitting in meditation requires some modification in order not to exacerbate the situation. But still, doable.
The most difficult part for me has been setting a regular time for this practice every day. I really, really want it to be a first-thing-in the morning practice, but it has turned into an 80% right before bed-thing, and sometimes that is a real chore. So, moving forward my challenge is to make this the very first part of my day. So what did I learn???
I can be still for 20 minutes!
By nature I have a lot of nervous energy. In fact, my best friend was surprised when I told her I was going to teach yoga :) Of course, over the years I have become adept at moving into a calm state of mind quite quickly at the beginning of my classes, and have been told numerous times that my voice/ teaching style is soothing. Nevertheless, sitting in meditation for 20 minutes was a challenge at the beginning. Sometimes it would take over 15 minutes just to begin to move into quietness. Now that state is very easy to reach most days.
There is so much to learn!
On days when I was particularly challenged to practice, I took to You-tube for support, and discovered a whole world of inspiration: sometimes I used guided meditations from Jack Kornfield or Jon Kabat-Zinn, sometimes I just found incredibly inspirational footage from veritable yogis like Krishnamacharya, and Iyengar. I practiced Insight meditation with Pema Chodron, and found many different variations of Yoga Nidra to try.
It is ok to take 20 minutes for myself everyday
This is a biggie for me. But over the last hundred days I have seen that I am much calmer and happier when I take this time for myself. In the summer I enjoyed sitting outside for my practice sometimes, or going for a walking meditation. I love early evening meditations in the waining sunlight, or those rare early mornings when the world around me is just as quiet and still as I am.
I can take better care of my body
I have become more aware of the amount of sleep I get and the quality of it. I am also much more aware of the kinds of foods that I consume. Over the last three months my whole family has begun to move toward a clearner, more organic, more locally grown diet, and that feels really good.
I have become a better yoga teacher
Learning to accommodate my body for prolonged periods of sitting has made me realize that my demonstrating style of teaching is not in everyone's best interest, generally. And so moving forward as a teacher I can take better care of myself, and pay better attention to the nuances going on around me. My deepening understanding of meditation also allows me to better guide these portions of my classes.
I have more empathy, and more joy!
Meditation has given me the gift of being kinder and gentler with myself. Over the last 100 days I have learned to witness, non-judgementally, my thoughts and emotions. And this translates into empathy for those around me too. I see others words and reactions now with more clarity, and that allows me to both be less affected by negativity and hopefully more compassionate. I have also learned to grieve better and be more joyful!