Since I did so well with the 21 day meditation challenge, I signed up for an 8 week mindfulness meditation class at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UPMC based on the work of Jon Kabot-Zinn. It is all about noticing. Not changing, just noticing.
I had wanted to take this class for a long time. Despite that I still felt uncertain if I should follow through after attending the introductory class. I told myself the class was going to be too big. I was going to be too tired. I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t practice anyway, that it would be another thing I tried and then forgot.
I couldn’t make my mind up and I didn’t know how to decide. As I looked over the materials given in the intro class, it said a symptom of stress was not being able to make up your mind…hmmmm.
The first night we learned how to do a 36 minute body scan. I laid on my yoga mat, a blanket over me, a towel under my head and listened to Carol Greco, the instructor, lead us, painfully slowly, through every inch of our bodies. Miraculously I stayed awake. I also was able to bring my wandering mind back somewhat efficiently and I felt “in my skin” when we finished. I walked slowly to the car, drove home leisurely and had a great nights sleep.
Our homework, of course, was to practice. So the next night I listened to Carol’s voice, downloaded from the course CD, drawing my attention to my breathing. “Feel the air as it touches your nostrils,” Carol cooes, “Feel the air touch the back of your throat, your chest rising and falling…now send your breath to your feet, the right foot, the left foot, the skin between your toes, the tops of your feet, the soles of your feet…” That is all I heard. I was asleep.
The next night I asked Tom if he wanted to join me. He did. So we began. I could feel his restlessness as he adjusted himself…readjusted himself…at one point I snuck a peak his way. He was stretching his hamstrings. A few minutes later he whispered, “This is boring.”
I continued to practice all week. Spending $300.00 to take the class had it’s own special kind of motivation.
I fell asleep every time. I was a meditating failure.
Carol would not agree. She would say to notice I felt like a failure is a success. After all, mindfulness meditation is all about noticing. Noticing where our thoughts go. Noticing what we tell ourselves. She even said to notice at what part of the meditation I fell asleep. Notice, notice, notice.
Our homework for this week was to be mindful during an activity. I decided to take a mindful shower. I felt the hot water on my back, my fingers on my scalp washing my hair, the steam in my lungs as I took deep breaths, the…”what an asshole, who does he think he is, he is such a bully, if he thinks I am going to take this”…oops…I noticed I was having a conversation with my bull headed brother. I felt the adrenaline in my body. I was shaky from only thinking about a conversation with him. “Wow, how often do I do that and not even notice the consequence to me? Okay…come back to the moment by feeling the sensation of”…the hot water on my back, my feet in the water, my breath, the soap in my hair, the smell of the shampoo…” I am back and I feel calm.
Maybe this mindful noticing really does work! It is change without fixing or figuring it out(which I love to do) but simply by noticing. I’ll keep you posted.