This was my daily program in the first two weeks of the MBSR mindfulness challenge:
- guided body scan meditation for 45 minutes
- unguided sitting breathing meditation for 10 minutes
- being mindful while eating
Surprisingly, I found the mindful eating to be the toughest part. Usually, I talk to someone or listen to a podcast while eating. Breaking this habit felt very uncomfortable, and somehow I found that my moment-to-moment awareness depended a lot on the weather.
The brighter the sun was shining, the easier I could stay with my attention in the present moment. This is hard for me to admit because I used to take pride in how little my inner life is affected by outer conditions. I guess I was lying to myself there…
The second part, sitting breathing meditation, was not new to me; I have been doing it for over five years now, and typically longer than 10 minutes. However, in combination with the 45-minute body scan session, I did experience some new positive effects.
In particular, the groundedness and the elevation in mood I always experience after meditation now lasted much longer. For example, on the days I did the body scan before work, I felt much happier throughout hours of work, not just happier on my way to work (as would have been the effect of a brief 15-minute session).
The most noticeable change, however, was in my metacognition. Never have I been so aware of my own thinking and judging mind as over the past two weeks. When I walk through the streets, I judge literally everything and everyone I lay eyes on. I barely realized this before. Sure, I would pay attention to my judging mind from time to time, but never as consistently as during the last few days.
I currently see my mind as a highly efficient judging machine. It gets fed information and all it does with it is judge—form opinions, like, and dislike. Most (if not all) of these judgments seem to be created solely to justify my self-image, reinforce my self-worth, and protect my ego, particularly my masculine ego. Now I am not saying that these judgments are bad, but they sure are interesting to observe.
- How to Take Action Without Judging
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 1 [Introduction]
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 3 [Weeks 3+4]
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 4 [Weeks 5+6]
If you are interested in doing this challenge yourself, you can get the CDs I am using on Amazon: Guided Mindfulness Meditation. To learn more about this program and mindfulness in general, read Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.