30 Days of Meditation: Anatomy of a Yoga Challenge. Day 1
Happy New Year! Let me begin by saying that I do not love challenges. I am not speaking of difficult things, but specifically, the kind of challenge that begins on January 1 and promises to transform you. You know the type. Thirty days to a new you sort of stuff. As if the me from December 31 is somehow not living up to my full potential. And what if I do not, or cannot complete this challenge. Does that make the new me less than those who did? Or worse, am I stuck with the old me forever?! Every year the studio where I practice, Yoga Life (@yogalifestudio), offers a 30 day yoga challenge. The concept is simple; take 30 classes in 30 days to feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. Oh, and there are prizes. While I understand the idea behind offering a challenge as way of helping others build a dedicated practice, and while this particular studio does a really nice job of keeping the focus on personal growth, rather than pushing to an imagined finish line, the idea has never appealed to me. Until this year. The year that Yoga Life added 30 days of mediation to the challenge. The year that even if one chose to skip every asana practice, the meditation practice is still offered, free of charge. No prizes. No pressure to be in studio. Just meditations delivered daily to your email for your personal growth. Now this was something I could get on board with. Challenge accepted. What follows today, and in as many days as I am able to post (I am serious about keeping this low key), is my experience. My journal of sorts.
Now I am not new to meditation. In fact, I have been practicing meditation sporadically for nine years or so. Admittedly, it is not the strongest limb of my practice. Alone, I can sit for maybe 10 minutes before I being to fidget and feel achy. In a group setting ,with the support of others, that number increases to 15 or 20 minutes. However, I have never been consistent. So today, as I opened my email and clicked the link to the recording, I decided to take my mediation in a supported reclined posture. Yeah, I decided to lay down. It is after all New Year's Day, and while I can report that I did not over indulge last night, I did stay up until 12:07, just to usher the new year in. With my body fully cushioned by blankets and pillows I proceeded towards dhyana (meditation).
I have to say it went pretty well. Sure, my mind wandered, and yes my body felt a little achy. But the guidance provided by the teacher allowed for permission to experience all of those things. In fact, at one point, it was encouraged. I was cued to label what was happening, "thinking, thinking, thinking", or "aching, aching, aching". The focus this week is Annamaya Kosha (Anna=food, Maya=consisting of, Kosha=layer), the layer consisting of food, or the physical body. I am pretty good a noticing sensations in my body. In fact, I lead with this in most of the yoga sessions that I teach. So for me a practice of experiencing Annamaya Kosha had a familiar quality. I found that I easily softened into my body. However, lying down for the practice felt a bit like yoga nidra, or even savsana-like. I did find my mind wandering more than settling. I've always had some of my best ideas in savasana, so it was difficult for me to stay in the practice of concentration (Dharana) needed for meditation. Still I was surprised how quickly the 20 minutes seemed to pass. And I ended the practice feeling free from the anxiety I had woken up with. There were no big revelations. No ah-ha moments. But that's ok. I am willing to start small and see where this leads.
Until Next time. Peace, Peace, Peace