Category: Meditation revolution – YJ 2012

As I mentioned in some previous posts, I’ve gone along with Yoga Journal’s Meditation Revolution: a 28-day program of 10-minutes/day meditation. Enough to establish a habit, they say.

I have learned that it takes me a bit longer than 28 days to establish a habit. πŸ™‚ But almost 28 days of consecutive daily practice, combined with the very powerful ham-sa meditation, were enough for me to get a taste of… how awesome meditation can feel. I have learned that it takes me fewer than 28 days to establish an addiction. πŸ™‚ Once I got to that feel-good place, I want to go back. So that explains why I stuck with it and I keep sitting for about 12 minutes most days.

A friend asked me if I noticed a difference… Well, yes. Here is what it feels like for me, and why I’m sticking with it:

  • After some regular practice, I experience a state of peaceful joy. This pleasant feeling of joy (bliss?) comes out of the blue when I am sitting, and reappears occasionally during the day.
  • I am experiencing a state of calm and detachment. When I meditate and right afterwards, problems seem solvable, without getting too worked up. When I do get worked up, it is easier (faster) to come back to a calm and detached state. A state of mind that knows that this is not a life or death situation, and even if the business office is annoying me, it will all be OK. (It will all be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end :))
  • I sometimes experience a delightful sense of spaciousness. You know that feeling, when you are stressed, that the skull is pressing on the brain, and there’s enormous pressure on the shoulders and chest? Well, this is the opposite. It feels like my skull enlarges and my mind expands into the blue, beyond the limits of my physical body. My eyebrows and forehead relax, and I feel that there is enough space, there is enough time. Feels delightful.
  • Now, these are glimpses that last maybe a few seconds. As my mind works on its own (some days more than others), I am sometimes able to observe trains of thought, but I often I get on them. Luckily, the chime on my meditation timer reminds me to get off at the next train stop and to come back to the breath and the mantra. And then I get a glimpse of the pleasant states described above. And then another train comes. Rinse and repeat. πŸ™‚ I have observed that it is much easier to come back to stillness and joy with the mantra rather than focusing only on the breath as in pure Vipassana.

As I understand it, these are just the initial, superficial stages of meditation. But you know what, I’ll take them. It doesn’t have to be samadhi. πŸ™‚

I am grateful to Sally Kempton for providing gentle guidance through the 28 days. Her book, Meditation for the Love of It, is on my reading list.

If you would like to try this simple and powerful meditation, here is an audio of Sally Kempton guiding you through it. The same technique is described in more detail in the book Meditation and its Practice, which I was sure I reviewed on this blog, but apparently I didn’t. on Facebook – Further evidence that cats are, indeed, Zen masters πŸ™‚

I stuck to it. Kinda. I missed a couple of 3 days when I was waaay too tired and realized that I would be nodding off and unable to focus. The first day I missed was a challenge – I challenged myself to miss a day and not obsess and feel guilty about it. To make room for it, as Liz suggested in an email. I realized that I was so attached to not missing a day that it was hard to make room for missing one. So I did. From there on, I noticed it is easy to start going down a slippery slope. I made up the time on the following day (if that counts for something) but in terms of maintaining the habit, it is important to not miss days. There’s some research I read about that if you slip once you are more likely to give everything up – as in, when you eat a cookie on a diet, and then give up the entire diet (I am not an advocate of dieting, btw).

I loved the Hamsa meditation and it came easy to me. This week’s meditation, not so much. It is about focusing on the space in between the breaths. I am having a hard time with it. It doesn’t come naturally, I tense up, focus too much, can’t leave my breath flow at its natural pace, and spend the time, overall, trying too hard. I don’t think it’s about trying too hard. I’ll keep practicing it for another day or so, Β but I do not think this type of meditation is for me.

I recognize the importance of the space between breaths as a portal. I remember it from one of my first readings in this area (Eckhart Tolle). I just don’t think I’m ready – or maybe it’s something that should be practiced after asana and pranayama, when the space between the breaths lengthens naturally. I remember that feeling from a breathing class with Max Strom. After one hour of very deep breathing, the space between the breaths was long and peaceful, almost as if my body didn’t need to breathe for long periods of time.

I loved the Mutts strip above (thank you, Dr. V, the lovely veterinarian and amazing writer, for bringing it across my screen) and it reminded me that one thing I would like to start is a gratitude practice. I still have the gratitude journal Liz gave me a few years ago… and still a lot of blank pages in it.

So many things I’d like to do, so little time.

How do you make room for regular practice (yoga, meditation, gratitude, arts, cooking) in your life?

Namaste from Blue Lotus Yoga,


As sitting for 10 minutes a day got filed in my mind as “should do” or “have to do” I started noticing a tendency to procrastinate. This procrastination is a form of resistance, of opposing control and authority. It has been very interesting to dig deeper and figure out where this comes from. Who am I trying to oppose? What control have I lost that I am trying to regain? Childhood sit, of course. But it’s good that I noticed it and I can attempt to work through it, because these days I end up resisting and opposing myself, which is not something that serves me well.

Hamsa meditation

This week is a different kind of meditation – a mantra aligned with the in-breath (ham) and the out-breath (sa). More about hamsa meditation on Yoga Journal’s site. I try to be cautious about mantra meditations, because I know just enough to understand that if mispronounced, or not chosen well for each particular person, they can be misleading (OK, my Hindu husband is the source of this information). But I am open to trying, and seeing how it feels.

And after only 2 days of hamsa meditation, I find that this is powerful stuff for me. It feels good, it resonates well with my being. I am surprised at how quickly it brings me to a very peaceful, quiet state. Then, I stop on the brink of something and I am afraid to let go because I don’t know what’s beyond. So my mind returns to thinking. And the mantra. And back to the brink. And repeat 3-4 times in the space of only 10 minutes. I guess that’s the problem of not having immediate access to a trusted teacher who can guide you or coach you or catch you if you fall.

This site has what seems to be a more in-depth explanation of the hamsa meditation, though I am in no position to evaluate the credibility of this information. [Update]But, the more I read the information on this site, the more I like it. This article about the levels and dimensions of consciousness may provide some answers as to what that brink I experienced is about.

Have you had similar experiences?

Check, check, and check.

Day 3 – lying in bed, last thing before going to sleep. Too tired to go upstairs, but decided I didn’t want to deal with the disappointment of missing a day.

Day 4 – who needs a mindfulness bell when Zen master Luna Blue is there to squeak and bring my mind back to reality?

Day 5 – this blogging thing helps! I was thinking that I didn’t blog the previous days and remembered that I had not sat yesterday. So went upstairs and sat for 10 minutes before going out to a local street festival.

Some days are better than others, some days feel like punching the clock, but it’s OK – what matters here is the discipline that will hopefully help create a daily habit.

Namaste from blue lotus,

Today I had to leave the house in a hurry (for a noon meeting… I know, I know) so I didn’t sit before getting started. I took the new kitty to the vet, and when I came back around 4 pm, I had some time to work before heading to a Yoga class. I sat down to read through a manuscript and realized I felt tired and unfocused – and that I felt the need to meditate and quiet down.

I am glad I payed attention to what my mind needed and went upstairs to sit for 10 minutes. It was a short but very sweet session. For a few precious seconds my mind stayed with me and the breath, and my entire being felt light and peaceful.

Of course, this sitting got so much better once Zen master Ziggy decided to supervise. πŸ™‚

Zen master Ziggy finding (en)light(ment) in the Yoga room

Later, during Yoga class, the teacher said, “There is always time for one deep breath.” So true. I’d like to remember that. There is always time for one deep breath and there is always time for a quick 3-minuteΒ  meditation, even at the office, to find a bit of stillness and clarity to move on with the day. Funny thing is, the water mug on my desk reads “Breathe.” I’ve become rather skilled at not seeing it…

Did it.

Didn’t feel like it.

Tried not to peek at the timer every few seconds, though that’s what my mind did.

But I sat until the timer rang 10 minutes.





I have had the intention to establish a daily meditation habit for… oh, I don’t know, years now. Here I am, trying again, this time I signed up for Yoga Journal’s Meditation Revolution – 28 days of meditation, hopefully enough to create a habit.

I love Sally Kempton’s columns in YJ, and am excited that she is the guide of this 28 day exercise. That’s the main reason why I did not turn off the recording today and just focused on breath. I was tempted to do so, as I found the constant talking distracted from breath awareness. But then, I felt I did need a guide – someone to be with me in (virtual and electronic) spirit, so I kept it on.

I set my meditation timerΒ  (iTunes link) for 10 minutes, and sat for a couple of minutes longer than the YJ recording.

My mind was drawn to work – the need to so so (I need to revise and resubmit a grant proposal), the lack of motivation to do so, as well as some inquiry into this lack of motivation. I really needed the timer to bring me back to the present moment! But on the upside, I did get some good, specific ideas about how to proceed with my work, and now I am motivated to get them done.

Finding the time during my usual hectic days is usually a challenge (or a poor excuse). But it’s summer now, and days are slower, so I stepped into the yoga room right after taking a shower. I usually rush through my shower and run to work afterwards, but I know it is possible to find 10 minutes before leaving the house to sit. πŸ™‚ Hopefully, if I establish this habit during the summer, I will be able to maintain it when the semester starts.

Is anybody with me on this 28 day journey? Any and all company and support would be most welcome! Did you meditate today? Do you have any tips for sticking with a home practice, whether yoga or meditation?

May all beings everywhere be happy and free. πŸ™‚