During the month of February, challenge yourself to participate in MMC’s 28-day meditation program. It’s simple: Commit to meditating each day and connect online to share experiences – pleasant, difficult or otherwise. We will follow the meditation program outlined in Sharon Salzberg’s book, “Real Happiness.” This blog will be your guide, including links to helpful Web sites and guided meditations. Meditation can help with overall wellness, pain, stress, anxiety, sleep and concentration. This is your opportunity to start a new practice to enhance your wellbeing or to continue your practice in the company of your fellow Griffins.

Sign up with the form below and to the right and check back here often.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thinking about what's "helpful" rather than what's "right"

I'll bet many of you at this point are second-guessing yourselves and judging yourselves quite harshly, especially if you're having trouble finding time to meditate, you can't sit still for 20 minutes, you can't stop the endless flood of thinking or you don't want to do this anymore. Or some other variation.

Here are a few tools to use in your meditation to help you work with these challenges:

- Counting: Inhale, exhale and silently say "one" to yourself. Then, inhale, exhale, "two." Inhale, exhale, "three." And so on up to 10, then start over at one again. I guarantee you don't get past three or four before you're off on some thought tangent. So, start again at one. One of the things that meditation helps us get comfortable with is simply starting over, again and again.

- "Not breath." If you're doing a breathing meditation, the moment you find you're not attending to your breath and you notice a thought taking you away, simply identify it as "not breath" and return your attention to the sensation of your breath. This can help cut down a bit on the harsh critic in your head because when it says, "you're not doing this right" you simply notice that thought as "not breath," helping you stay detached, centered and calm.

- Using the words "in," "out," or "rising," "falling" to gently tack onto each in and out breath. Do it ever so lightly, just enough to stay connected to the breath.

- Keep a sitting journal - Try keeping a log each day of how long you meditated, what the predominant aspect of it was - sleepy? bored? energized? planning? busy mind?, etc. and your general emotional state of the day - calm, anxious, focused, scattered, irritable, etc. At the end of the week, review your journal and see if you notice any relationship between your meditation practice and your day.

- Remember, you can also use the hearing meditation if that is going better for you or the mini-meditations throughout the day.

Feel free to mix things up, see what works for you. The important thing is to not regard your experience as right or wrong but to simply choose whatever will be most helpful in each moment.

Salzberg writes, "Success in meditation is measured not in terms of what is happening to us but by how we relate to what is happening."

On a separate note, tomorrow starts the second week of the Real Happiness Meditation Challenge. Congratulations. Give yourself a pat on the back for taking the time to do something good for you.

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