After journaling for approximately 6 weeks, with the aim of meditating daily, I have discovered my great paradox: when I need meditation the most, I do it less. That is to say, as soon as things get hectic and I should be trying to find some quiet amongst the chatter, I rush around and it’s the first thing to go in my daily agenda.
But, before I get into my paradox, I can briefly go over some of the meditation methods I tried.
- Focused attention: I counted up to 10 and then started over. Starting over after 10 gave me just enough focus to prevent my mind from drifting, and keeping out the chatter, while having it be boring enough to be relaxing.
- Open monitoring: I like to start each meditation doing a body scan, noticing tight areas or areas that feel soft and relaxed. It helps bring awareness to how each day differs from the next. I also like to use the noting technique where I acknowledge thoughts and then let them go. I do this by gently labeling each as a thought or a feeling, like a feather touching a glass (I learned this technique using Headspace).
- Love and compassion: I learned this one from my therapist where each person you see on the street you look at them and say to yourself, “I wish you love, I wish you peace, I wish you happiness”, even if you know you wouldn’t get along with them. This is a mediation I do while walking around the city as opposed to performing it in the morning before I begin my routine. However, one method I have yet to try is focusing on the people closest to you and send them this energy, and slowly work your way out of your inner circle to your outermost circle. This can be done seated, at home, as well.
- Guided: I use the Insight Timer app with short guided meditations that fall under the above three categories.
After trying versions of these methods, I found that one didn’t necessarily work better than the others. In fact, I found that what effectively worked was to choose a method based on my mood. Sometimes I chose wrong:
“Sept 6: I listened to a guided meditation on the Insight Timer app but the guide spoke every second of the 5 minutes and there were no quiet pauses. It felt more like a lesson than a mediation. She kept saying ‘you are enough’ so that became my mantra.”
Sometimes I chose correctly:
“Sept 20: Today I breathed in for 4 and exhaled for 8. The chatter crept in a couple of times, but I liked having a task to return to, at least.”
Someone once told me that, more often in life, it’s how you feel. So, as a solution to this issue as as my final for the course I decided to create a chart that helps me select a mediation style based on my mood in the morning. I hope it helps you too!