My two-week personal meditation challenge got off to a great start last month: on day 1, I forgot to meditate.
I know that no one’s perfect, but I can’t say that I was feeling particularly confident about my prospects when I couldn’t even remember to start.
This summer was a difficult one for me. I lost a very dear loved one after a year-long battle with cancer. The grief I felt, not only in grappling with the diagnosis but after his passing, was suffocating. I came face to face with aspects of myself that I never knew existed, and my normally joyful heart was filled with anger and pain. After the difficult realization that denial was not going to get me through, I looked for other (positive) coping mechanisms, one of which was meditation.
So here I was, embarking on a two-week challenge with the goal of meditating for 5-10 minutes each day, hoping that it would help me.
I picked a free app called Stop, Breathe & Think. It’s very simple and offers meditation lessons, a variety of meditations to choose from, and a progress tracker. I like it because you can chose the theme of your guided meditation (falling asleep, engaging your senses, change, kindness) and each one ranges between 4 and 7 minutes. Easy, right?
Day 2…I forgot again.
At this point, I could see the humour in my situation: I was not even mindful enough to remember to complete my daily meditation. But then, most mindfulness and meditation practices encourage you to accept your faults and foibles and to try again. So I did.
I managed to complete 6 out of the 14 days of formal meditation, which is not even a passing grade, but I learned to laugh at myself without judging, for which I give myself an A+.
I know that meditation is not a cure-all, but it had the ability to help soften the hard edges that life threw at me, if by no other way than strengthening my resolve while softening the soul.
It was challenging to get into a habit of daily meditation, particularly because my schedule varies so much each day. After week 1, I started to set reminders in my calendar, which helped.
I also noticed that once I was doing it, though sporadically, that I started to incorporate more informal ways of meditation and mindfulness into my day such as deep breathing, taking five, and being more present in my surroundings.
This month, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and your colleagues. September can be a busy and stressful time on campus and we can sometimes forget to be patient, kind, and forgiving.
And if meditation and mindfulness isn’t for you, I hope that you discover coping strategies that will bring you strength throughout the year. Feel free to share some of your favourite strategies below.
All my best,