Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lessons from the 28 Day Challenge

I've meditated almost every day in some form for a lot of years, but my wife Jen, while a devoted yoga teacher and practitioner and sometime meditator, has been wanting to develop a daily practice.

We resolved to sit together for 10 minutes as part of the 28 day challenge. Most days we did. As we got further into the challenge, we got more consistent. And now we really enjoy it.

But the interesting thing is that the biggest beneficiary of our sitting together may not be either one of us. Instead, it might be our 12-year old, Caelan.

Before we began sitting, Caelan's energy was always very high coming into bedtime. He was always asking for more time for a snack or to do something that absolutely had to happen right then. (Like the time he needed thirty minutes to cut his toenails because they were distracting him.)

Jen strategically decided that we would sit at 9:20 each night. Caelan goes to bed at 9:30, and could use the time to get ready. The first few nights naturally brought some resistance. He wanted our attention, particularly Jen's.

We had to explain a few times what we were doing and why. And he began to get it. Interestingly, he often finishes brushing his teeth early and sits quietly with us. Not on a cushion, and sometimes looking at a book, but he likes the energy. He likes being quiet and then going to bed feeling more settled.

And he's started falling asleep faster, too.

Is every night perfect? Absolutely not. Some nights sitting is a challenge for all of us. But it's so much better in just the four weeks since we started.

Fourteen of you officially "declared" that you were taking the challenge. I'm not sure how many others might have at least tried to sit here and there. I'm interested if there were any surprises? Any benefits that you might not have anticipated going in?

For those of you who didn't start, or weren't as consistent as you would like, here are some final words of advice from Sharon Salzberg.

"The most important thing is just to do it. The everydayness is more important than every session being lengthy. And remember that every session will be different. You haven't fallen down, you haven't failed because you were less concentrated today than yesterday."

"You can always go back to five minutes. You can always begin again."

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