Journal Entries on Meditation

For the Contemplative Practitioner with Jack Miller, OISE

I am new to meditation. Other than a few moments of contemplation and meditations at the end of a Yoga or Body Flow class, I have had no experience and the experiences I have had often have been unsuccessful with my mind wandering the second I hit the mat or chair. I find it hard to turn off. My mind races while I sleep so as I first heard the challenge I was a little worried but that is what growth is about. Stepping out of our comforts zones. I look forward to the learning journey!

To help me with the process I am starting with the BREATHE app. I hope to eventually lead to 20 minutes of contemplation.

Journal Entries

Week 1

January 20th-Observing Breathing

  • 3 minutes-pm

This is my first proper attempt at meditation and I came to tonight's opportunity worried about my focus. The walk through in the app helped. Still feel my body tensing up. My breathing felt more naturally then in the class experience.

January 22nd-Observing Breathe

  • 5 minutes am

After falling asleep last night before getting to meditation, I thought I should try the am. Caught myself more distracted by the noises in the room and outside. I don't know if this better or worse since perhaps I am more awake. Also noticed a few panicky breathes like before. Body still feels tense especial in the shoulders. Will compare with the evening.

January 23rd-Observing Breathe

  • 5 minutes am

I have found that if I am focused on sounds: the sound of the narrator of the app, the sound of the fireplace, the sound of cars I can be present. When I loose focus of the sounds ideas wander in. Breathe was easier but shoulders still feel tense.

January 24th-Observing Breathe

  • 5 minutes am

I slept in this morning. As I went to sit in my comfy chair and get started I was aware of how bright and light it was. It seems like something so simple, so minute but the tasks of the day seemed to creep in a little faster this morning. I didn't feel as tense though. Not sure if it is due to the fact it is a Saturday or that I was able to get a full nights sleep or becoming more comfortable with the meditation process. I am wondering if I try a form of contemplation meditation if it will help me stay better focused.

January 25th-Gratitude

  • 5 minutes am

Again I slept in so the sun was beaming in this morning as I meditated. Since I found that the audio support in the breathing app was helpful in keeping me focused, I thought I would try the gratitude meditation. It seemed to have the opposite effect. Being asked to think through out the recording let numerous thoughts wonder in, most of which were off topic (the mess of the kitchen, the long to do list I hadn't tackled yet). Reflecting on the experience perhaps a combination of the Breathe recording, moving in to contemplation

January 26th-Observing Breathe

  • 5 minutes am

Back to early morning meditation. The combination of darkness, silence as the city hasn't yet woken up but yet an alertness that comes with the start of a new day that feels right. I noticed my posture changing through out the meditation. My back is taller, my hands and feet more relaxed. It's hard to explain but I feel like my head feels more aligned. As I fall into a rhythm with the BREATHE sequence I think I am ready to try 10 minutes. I do want to bring in some form of contemplation. I don't know if it will be a combination or how to accommodate both or transition.

Week 2

January 28th-Observing Breathe

  • 10 Minutes am

Yesterday I started but then couldn't continue. Today was no better. I don't know if I have ever felt so restless. Every inch of my body seemed restless this morning and no matter what I did I couldn't bring my focus back to my breath. Thoughts kept streaming in. My eyes twitched, my hands tensed. I had mysterious pains in my feet and legs. I kept opening my eyes and checking the time. It felt like an eternity. The distraction and loss of focus was frustrating after the progress of last week. Hopefully it was a random event and not a pattern.

January 29th-Relax, Ground and Clear

  • 6 Minutes Am

After the struggles of yesterday and the daily check-in, relax, ground and clear was suggested by the app. The narrator helped keep my mind focused on the moment and the experience. I find it hard when they bring in visualizations. I always try to remember an experience instead of imaging a place. I think this brings with it thoughts, memories and feelings. Perhaps that is the point. My body was a little less restless today. Instead of trying the Observing Breathe for 10 minutes, I am going to try 5 minutes and 5 minutes of contemplation. Perhaps it will allow me to be more present in the moment.

January 30th-Observing Breathe

  • 10 Minutes AM

Although still fidgety, I made it through the 10 minutes. The voice in the app helps me stay focused but in the moments in between I can feel my mind wander. Today I just repeated the line that came to mind "You are fearfully and wonderfully made." The repetition seemed to keep the invading thoughts at bay.

February 1st-Observing Breathe

  • 10 Minutes AM

I wonder if there is such a thing as a fidget toy for meditation. Although it went much better than earlier this week when I was stressed, and my posture seems better (I don't feel crunched in a ball), I still feel awkward letting my hands settle. Perhaps that is part of the lesson to be learned. Again this weekend, sleeping in a bit later (completely forgot yesterday's meditation after sleeping in) meant I was much more aware of the experience. I find the light and the alertness make my wind wander more. I used the phrase again to refocus. Need to choose a phrase more purposefully.

February 2nd-Observing Breathe

  • 10 Minutes AM

It's hard to explain, other than my upper body felt heavy this week. It didn't necessarily feel like pain but I was acutely aware of my arms as they stretched out across to my knees for the 10 minutes. My mind continues to wonder. The dark helps me to not loose sight or become frustrated.

Week 3

February 3rd-Observing Breathe

  • 10 Minutes AM
My feelings exactly with this meditation assignment. #WordSwagApp

February 4th-Observing Breathe

  • 10 minutes AM

Let the ideas that come into your head float away says the narrator on the Breathe app. That should be easy but I just can't let go. Each morning it seems like toddlers fighting over a favourite toy in my head. The ideas float in during the silence and I just can't let go. I know there is no wrong way, but it feels like I am doing something wrong. Maybe I'm at Teresa's first water-drawing from the well and I have to put in a more determined effort.

February 6th-Observing Breathe

  • 5 minutes AM

After the unsuccessful attempts of the week I thought I would try to go back to the 5 minute timer and see if I could get back in a successful routine. The restlessness mind seemed to remain but at least I was able to sit fairly still and be less frustrated with myself. I wondered if I am doing something wrong. When the voice reminds us to let the ideas float in and out does that mean it's natural that ideas come to mind? Is it holding on to them that is what we need to overcome? Emptying my thoughts does not seem possible.

February 7th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 8 minutes AM (5 minutes & 3 minutes)

I tried to combine the 5 minute Observing Breathe recording that worked in the first week with what I was hoping would be 5 minutes of Contemplation on the prayer below from Teresa of Avila. The mind wandered through out the initial 5 minutes but while reading the prayer it was easier to keep focused. That was the good news. The bad news: I thought I had been doing it for 5 minutes and the clock told me it was only 3. My body still feels tense but there is no longer any pain in my upper body like I experienced earlier this week and the week before.

Been looking more at Teresa of Avila's stuff. Love her determination and the rocky journey. Finally had a breakthrough in this daily meditation venture for MEd contemplating on one of her prayers.

February 8th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes AM

I used the observing breathe 10 minute recording to help guide my meditation this morning. The first half of the meditation is very guided with the recording and then moves into a quieter block of about 4 minutes. I decided that if my mind wandered during a quiet time I would use the prayer as a focus (hope that is ok) and for the first time in the last two weeks I feel I have made progress. Through contemplation visualizations of the prayer popped in my head and I was surprised by the beep of the app to signal the end. I found though reading the prayer off my device was a little distracting. I think it is the physical act of holding the phone (usually I lay it beside me as I listen to the recording). I think I will write it on a note for tomorrow.

February 9th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 Minutes AM

Finally a bit of progress! I find contemplating on the prayer really does keep the ideas at bay. I still struggle with holding on during the initial portion of the meditation. I worry thought that if I didn't start with the observing breathe that I wouldn't be able to settle myself for those moments. I do like having the prayer on paper. It seems so silly since I am still reading off something, but just the feel seems to distract less. I want to feel more confident and successful before branching into a longer period.

Week 4

Tuesday February 10th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

It is feeling a bit more comfortable to sit for the ten minutes. Although the tension is still present I don't feel the pain during the meditation I felt last week in my upper body. The contemplation does allow me to focus better.

Wednesday February 11th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

My hands will be the end of me! I find it is the first thing to start pulling my attention away. It starts with an itch on my chin I just have to scratch or a twerk in my arm that just can't wait. The tapping starts and then I just can't stop. I understand why some folks use prayer beads for sure.

I feel I need to research contemplation a little more to make sure I am following the right steps in the morning meditation.

Thursday February 12th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

I am trying to be more aware that as an idea comes into my head, to refocus on my breathe. It is slow progress. I can't say less ideas are coming in. I find I am not as hard on myself for letting them in after the feedback last week. It is letting go that I continue to work on.

Saturday February 14th-Visualization & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

I always regret trying something new. Feeling the tension in my upper body I thought I would try a different guide today with Relax, Ground and Clear. I can't say why but I find the narrator can help me with the breathing but once more steps are involved I lose my train of thought. Perhaps I am trying too hard to follow along with the steps that it is hard to empty the mind.

Sunday February 15th -Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

It is weird how much the light can affect my focus. I don't know if it is the visual distractions around me or if it is that day light is attached to work. I find earlier in the morning I am able to better focus and am less fidgety.

Monday February 16th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

My hands are twitchy as I go through the meditation. I'm sure it is all in my head but I can't seem to stay still. The rest of my body is getting used to the experience. It is just my hands or perhaps that is the focus of my energy this week.

Week 5

Tuesday February 17th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

I can hear myself thinking. It's like a full conversation happening in my head: "I need to reflect on this. I forgot to email... Tina you are supposed to let the ideas go. Refocus. Refocus on the breathe." I have lived on my own too long maybe. No interruptions my brain is so weird to talk to itself. Maybe I shouldn't admit that.  It is a little comical actually.

Wednesday February 18th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

My hands just take over. Easier with contemplation as I hold the card but even then recently I noticed the itch settle in. Perhaps it is the busyness of the day manifesting itself. All in all I am able to better redirect to my breathe. I find the contemplation element goes by in a flash. It definitely is easier to focus on the words as they push the other ideas out.

Friday February 20th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

Different seat today as my phone died. Wow what a difference! You wouldn't think something as small as moving from one side of the room to the other would have such an impact. I think it is maybe because it is the spot I do work in that the distractions just took over.  

Saturday February 21st-Out in Nature

  • 20 minutes outside

I have been down with a cold this week and sleep has taken over my life, turning my daily schedule a little upside down. On the rare days where I have missed the meditation I have good intentions to do it at night but it doesn't happen so on Saturday with the beautiful weather I thought I would go outside and just breathe there. It is funny how in nature I don't feel the restlessness that I feel in the chair, the ideas hoping back and forth or the fear of the silence. The first line of St. Teresa of Avila's prayer that I have been contemplating upon kept coming to mind: May Today There be Peace Within.

Monday February 23rd-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

Back to the normal routine this am. Back to trying to boot ideas out of my head. I think I am a bit better at redirecting them. When I notice them I try to think of my breath. Today though weird unrecognizable images popped to mind. Maybe I was still sleepy or the cold medication was kicking in.

Week 6

Tuesday February 24th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

I felt like I was better at bringing back my thoughts today. When my mind would wander I would try to refocus on my breathe and the rising and falling of my chest. The helicopter flying by seemed like a test in distractions. It's hard to not go straight to pondering why it may be around.

Wednesday February 25th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

I'm not sure why, but I didn't sit in the typical spot in the same way as I have the last few weeks. The app always walks you through sitting up tall, with your hands on your knees. It was interesting to notice how the pressure of having my arms crossed higher helped me feel more still. It reminded me of the pressure blankets I have seen a few kids use. Another time I will have to explore a little further.

Friday February 26th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

This is the first time in the last several weeks that I felt focused and lost track of passing time. The tension in my shoulders is still there but I haven't felt the upper body pain I felt in the first few weeks.

Saturday February 27th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

I don't know what happened but the thoughts in my head seemed to take over at the end of the meditation today. It seemed so innocent. A thought here and there and then somehow I got completely distracted. That hasn't happened before during the contemplation piece. Usually the words help me stay focused. Perhaps it is that I am becoming familiar with the passage and not as much thought is being put into the reading.

Sunday February 28th-Observing Breathe & Contemplation

  • 10 minutes am

As the meditation came to a close today, I was thinking if it was this calm earlier on in the process then I probably would have been able to do it for longer. As I sat there I thought of Dan Harris' work and how the thoughts were flooding in again. It was by no means a perfect meditation but I did feel more still and in control of the thoughts that were flowing in and out of my mind. The tension is felt most at the start of the meditation. I'm not sure how to overcome that.