As I mentioned in my previous post (go ahead, read it, I’ll wait), I’m a self-improvement junkie. So naturally, after reading Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing, I eagerly embarked on week one of the LIFE XT Program as described in the book.
The instructions for the week are:
Step 1. Complete the LIFE XT Assessment. Review your dashboard results.
Assessment? Dashboard? I couldn’t find either, so I mentally assessed my current state of wellbeing.
On a scale of one-to-ten, I hovered around a seven. Not bad. The sun was out. That was worth two points right there.
I pinned that starting point to my mental dashboard.
Step 2. Add Meditation. Begin practicing breath-centered meditation for ten minutes per day.
I set my timer for 20, pulled out my meditation bench and tucked my legs beneath the seat.
Allow me to pay tribute to my meditation bench. It’s a smooth, pinewood chunk of wood with folding legs, shaped and sanded by Dave. Who is Dave? Dave is the most unselfish, loving, funny, wise, and exasperating man I have ever had the good fortune to latch onto; a sort of non-family member of my family. This unselfish, wise and loving man wrote a message on yellow legal paper and taped it to the underside of the meditation bench which reads:
For: Peace of Mind,
Body, and Spirit
And below that, he drew a heart.
When he gifted me the bench, he said he planned to carve the message, and the heart, in that very spot.
That was 20 years ago.
It really is the thought that counts.
So, on the first day of the LIFE XT program* as I sat to meditate, my mind dwelled on that scrap of legal paper, and meandered to See’s candies, airplanes, Dale Carnegie, and the smell of the feet of 100 second-graders. And what was it I needed in the garage?
I considered it a successful meditation, in that I didn’t immediately untuck my legs and scramble upright to root around in the garage.**
I’ll spare you my mental ramblings over the remaining six days of meditating. Suffice it to say, science proves we have 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day; I used my quota in 20 minutes of meditating.
But at least I was aware of the mental chatter. That’s the first step.
Things to ponder:
Did our ancestors have 60,000 thoughts a day? Or have the numbers climbed astronomically because of all the mental stimulation we encounter?
Did cavemen have 60,000 thoughts a day? Or did they have one thought, 60,000 times? (Grunt, grunt, grunt…)
There’s a Buddhist term, “monkey mind,” which describes how the mind swings from thought to thought. My mind is more like a locomotive, barreling past candy stores and second-grade classrooms, through airports and over the grave of Dale Carnegie. I need to apply the brakes, slow my mind doooooown, and observe the images drifting by. This I accomplished over the week, after much mental arm-wrestling with the conductor of my mind.
We did, however, make a pit-stop to thoroughly ponder my new bathroom floor. My landlady hired two guys from Home Depot to rip out the carpet and replace it with material that looks like hardwood, but is really something quite different. Now when I step into the bathroom, my shoes make clicking noises on the floor which I find extremely satisfying (I also enjoy clicking my ballpoint pen during staff meetings, which my co-workers do not find at all satisfying). While meditating, I had the urge to dig out my tap shoes and dance on this unmarred surface, making it look less like faux hardwood and more like real scuff marks, which, come to think of it, would be a visual representation of my mind during a not-so-successful meditation.
*I’m only blogging about this because one of my followers suggested it. So if you don’t want to read about my nutty progress through the LIFE XT program, you can visit her at mydangblog and tell her to let me off the hook. I suggest you do this posthaste.
**I’m reading the book Writing Without Rules, wherein the author, Jeff Somers, adds hilarious footnotes to every single page. After thirty minutes of reading this book, I start thinking in footnotes. This insanity, I trust, will pass when I finish the book.
You always make me smile. Good luck with maybe reducing to 59,000 thoughts per meditation in the next little while. 😀
I hereby let you off the hook, but I DID enjoy this post and your attempts to meditate. I myself am unable to meditate because the second I start focusing on my breathing, I become unable to breathe. The same thing happens if I wear earplugs–listening to my own breathing makes me hyperventilate. I’d rather have 60 000 thoughts!
Too late! I can’t stop. Yeah, focusing on the breath isn’t my first choice, especially if I feel anxious. Ditto for body sensations. And I’m not one to use a mantra. I do better focusing on sounds or just watching my thoughts drift by, which is no easy feat!