Our Train Has Left the Station

It’s not often that I look forward to the beginning of February. Historically it is a dismal block on my calendar, dotted with the anniversaries of a few not-so-pleasant events, sort of hanging in this purgatory between the comforting stillness of Winter and the promise of sunshine and new growth in Spring. But I’ve been chomping at the bit for February 1st since I signed up for this challenge, and for that alone I am grateful.

I gave Sharon’s “preview” recording a listen last night before I went to sleep. I laid in bed with my headphones on, sitting relatively upright, but not sure what to expect in terms of actual meditation for this first recording. It was a nice exercise to soothe my nerves before sleep and was also informative. In revisiting the blog today, I realized that what I heard last night was indeed the meditation for Day 1. So I prepared to sit on my little meditation cushion (which I know has an actual name that I don’t know) and I gave it another go, this time in the manner that I consider “formal.”

The second round brought to light some key words and concepts which had resonated with me last night even in my state of sleepiness. If I had to choose only one, it would be an easy choice.

“Shepherd your attention back to the breath.”

What powerful imagery these words created for me. To think that I am the shepherd of my own flock of figurative sheep or “energies” is fascinating – some of these energies manifest as thoughts that wander away from the group in different directions. Maybe they lag behind the group, stuck in the past, or maybe they’re far ahead in the future. At any rate, we know that having sheep all over the place as a shepherd is a bad thing. I’m slowly building the skills to gently coax these errant members of the flock back together, to soothe the sheep that are agitated or overly active, and to become peacefully whole by returning to the breath.

Day 1 complete. On a technical note, I’m interested to learn from other practitioners about their habits surrounding the act of meditation itself:

Do you have a designated room or area in a room for meditation? I have an additional bedroom that was formerly a home office that is now used solely for my yoga and meditation practices. This is a luxury for which I feel tremendously grateful. The room itself has only a desk and an altar, with space in the center for one or two yoga mats and meditation cushions.

Do you combine meditation with any other practice, i.e. yoga, reading, eating, etc.? It varies, as does the time of day during which I meditate, but I usually meditate at the conclusion of my yoga practice (assuming I am practicing at home and not at another location). I find that yoga reliably prepares me mentally, physically, and energetically to hop right into a rewarding meditation session.

Do you meditate before, during, or after eating? As I usually meditate after yoga, my stomach is empty (mostly because it’s not advisable to practice yoga after a meal). I’m so used to having the feeling of hunger during meditation that now even when I don’t practice yoga beforehand, I wait until I’m hungry to meditate. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

If anyone’s read my blog today and would like to offer insight into your own practice, I’d be so honored to hear about it! Connecting with others during this challenge gives us a unique opportunity to explore what’s out there and how we can build a practice that is personally fulfilling.

I look forward to our next day together.

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