Day 3 of MBSR program

There’s a common perception among folks that meditation is all about relaxing and feeling like a koala bear blissed-out on eucalyptus leaves.  Meditation is like that. Except when it’s not.  

When I performed the body scan meditation on days 1 and 2, I felt like I was indulging in some sort of spa treatment, it was pleasurable and relaxing.  I also had the luxury of sleeping in until 8am on both days (thanks to the generous support of my slumbering children) – that extra sleep is a treat in itself.  Today was different.  I woke at 6am (after getting to bed at midnight, oops . . .) and I was not feeling the spa vibe.  Instead, I was feeling  restless, uncomfortable and, a couple of times, downright panicky.  I took the opportunity to just be with my feelings, however, and discovered that by focusing all of my attention on the feeling, I actually transcended it.  I’d like to say that once I did that, I was fine and found myself enjoying spa time again, but the feelings kept revisiting me so I kept feeling them all the way through and transcending them.  

What I found interesting about the experience I had this morning was how similar it was to times I’d want to overeat in the past.  When I got the need to overfeed, I would be filled with anxiety thinking that if I didn’t give in to the impulse, some unimaginably horrible consequence would transpire.  When I took the time to pause and feel whatever I was feeling all the way through, I discovered I was partially right: the consequence was unimaginable. It was unimaginable because there was no convincing evidence to support it – even my imagination was at a loss. The worst part about the feeling was the anticipation that some (truly) unimaginable thing would happen. Nothing happened.  I learned that it was just a feeling and all feelings are finite.  This is very good news. So, today as I thought, “Oh my God, I feel like I am going to go crazy if I lie here in this fixed position on the floor concentrating on my knee for one more second!” but then I commenced feeling that feeling all the way through, to see if, in fact, I would succumb to madness.  Not only did my sanity remain in tact, but the feeling passed and I continued to focus on various parts of my body, and,  even though I was visited by the insanity thought a couple times more during the rest of my practice, I found they dissolved as soon as I gave the feeling all of my attention.
I do notice a positive difference just in the few days I have been following the program.  I am definitely more patient, more focused and more centered. Even today, I noticed that my mind did not wander during my swim workout (which it tends to do), I was completely engaged in each stroke in each moment. Later, when I did my ten minutes of sitting meditation, I found it challenging to settle my mind.  I reminded myself that I had carved out this special time to be still, present and attentive, or what I call being truly alive.   I refocused my attention on whatever came up in that moment, including my thought, acknowledged it and then let it go.  It wasn’t necessarily spa-like, but it was deeply satisfying.  
And now I’ve got to get my butt to bed to prepare for day number four . . .
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