In the past two weeks, my daily mindfulness program consisted of:
- guided body scan meditation or mindful Yoga for 45 minutes
- unguided sitting breathing meditation for 20 minutes (week 3) or 30 minutes (week 4)
- being aware of one pleasant (week 3) or unpleasant (week 4) event as it is happening
I found the Yoga sessions to be even more relaxing than the body scan, and easier to do. Being mindful while moving the body and enduring uncomfortable positions is a smaller challenge than being mindful while nothing is moving except the belly along with the breath. This reinforced my belief that the best way to develop mindfulness is sitting breathing meditation, the purest and toughest form of meditation.
I enjoyed doing the simple Yoga exercises because they taught me that breathing is not always as easy as it seems, especially when I had to breathe into a deep stretch. But that is where looseness comes from, and only with proper breathing could I truly relax. After the challenge, I will definitely keep doing the mindful Yoga on a regular basis: to relax, to train my Will to endure discomfort, and to ease into a mindful state relatively quickly.
Regarding the third part of the program, I found that the most pleasant events I experienced mindfully were tied to five things: music (especially Ophidian and Streetlight Manifesto), nature (especially watching the moon in the woods), meditation (especially during the sitting breathing meditation), sex (especially during slower penetration, which I should try more often), and training (especially after jiu-jitsu or a barbell workout). Without controlling it, I always felt my breath deepen as I was in deep appreciation for the current moment.
On week 4, however, I shamefully failed to be aware of unpleasant events as they were happening. I found it much harder to be mindful during less pleasant events. I wonder whether I have trained myself to not experience negativity consciously, perhaps to protect myself from dwelling on it? In any case, this is something for me to work on because I would not believe for a second that I do not witness several unpleasant events in any day. It is much more plausible that they just do not frequently reach my conscious awareness—which, of course, indicates a flaw in my mindfulness skills. Well, actually… I am often aware of unpleasant events happening, but ironically, not so much in the very week I tried to be. This might be a lesson in wu wei.
Certainly, I have learned much, much more during the past two weeks of this challenge, particularly about the nature of judgments. But I have yet to make sense of, digest, and structure my experiences. They are still confusing to me. I am doing my best to unravel and verbalize them, for they all deserve their own blog posts. I have been writing on them for a while now, so stay tuned.
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 1 [Introduction]
- MBSR Mindfulness Challenge – Part 2 [Weeks 1+2]
- 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.