During the Corona lockdown, I started to challenge myself a little bit and decided to deepen my meditation practice. It was the perfect opportunity since I had to work from home – like probably most people who worked in Information Technology. So I stood up early in the morning at 5:15 before drinking coffee and went to the cushion for 1 1/2 hours. I did the same in the evening after work before going to bed. I decided to do it online with a teacher and did it for 45 days without in a row.
Later my projects at work got very challenging and I had to change the routine and did the practice only at a working day but not at the weekend. On some days I had to shorten the sessions. Today I manage to meditate early 20 minutes in the morning and 30 in the evening. When I’m lucky I find more time at the weekend.
Why do meditation?
I told a little bit our this at last SAP Community Coffee Corner Meet-Uo where we talked about work-life balance and now I like to share it here. I already blogged about Mindfulness Meditation. If you don’t know the benefits I will explain it here again. Everybody will agree that we have to care for our bodies: we brush our teeth, take a shower, and work out (or have at least good resolutions to do so). But what do we do for our minds? The mind need some care, too, because the work in IT business is demaning. We constantly have to solve difficult problems, have to deal with difficult people, we have tough dealines and budgets. We are constantly distracted and it is difficult to keep the mental focus. From my experience meditation is a good way to care for our exhausted minds.
Now I would like to share my experiences after a more intense meditation phase. For me, this is a little bit difficult to explain. Why? Meditation means switching from cognitive thinking to perception. During meditation, one perceives body, mind, thoughts, emotions, volitions, and so on. Unfortunately, those things are not easy to describe – one has to experiences this on its own. But I hope this blog entry could be interesting for someone with meditation skills and wants to deepen it a little bit.
You might get the impression that I am a very skillful meditator, but the opposite is true. Those things don’t come easy to me and my meditation is often a mess. But I learned not to worry about it. The experiences changes with causes and conditions and slowly you learn how this works.
135 Hours on the Cushion
When I look back, those 45 days have been an amazing experience and I miss it. But it is somewhat difficult to explain why. The 1 1/2 hours in the morning and the evening give your day a structure. And after about 5 days your perception starts to changes and also how you see the world around you.
Before I go into detail I think I have to explain what mediation is not like – at least for me. When you see pictures people who practice Yoga you often see an image of a woman sitting in a perfect lotus posture on a beach or in front of a waterfall. The hair whips in the wind and she seems to experience pure bliss. For me, the opposite is true. In the morning I’m yawning since I didn’t have coffee, and in the evening some thoughts of works, the Corona situation, and so on came to my mind. But yes, sometimes one experiences deep states and concentration and perhaps bliss. But I found it problematic since one considers it as “perfect meditation experience” and wants to go back into that state. But I find this problematic since I start to judge the meditation experience and tries to “gain” something from it. And this will screw up your meditation because mediation doesn’t mean to achieve anything, it means to pay attention to things that are so close to you that they are easily overlooked.
So what changes during a time of more intense meditation time? I think this can differ from person to person but I experienced the following:
- You get more focus. In a world full of hyper-information and distraction and is more interested in important news. The interest in TV shows and movies decreases.
- You get more aware of habitual patterns.
- You are interested in details and not just world views or opinions. This can be experienced as “clarity”.
- You develop a sense of beauty. You see s kind of beauty even in ugly and sad things.
I fear that might sound a little bit esoteric but I think this could be explained by science. When you meditate a lot the experience of yourself and the world around you slows down. Details are getting more and more important instead of experiencing always something new. And the quality of experience seems to change, too. The mind has more time to look examine details. Of course, there are also a lot of subconscious activities during mediation. One gets more aware of own habitual patterns but also asks oneself about priorities in one’s life. I also made the experience that from this place something new can occur. After meditation, I experienced lots of creativity and started new cooking experiments and also little handicraft work.
The art of solitude
It is possible to do your daily work and have an intense meditation practice at the same time. I found the following helpful:
- Try to keep the concentration during work. Try to complete a task and don’t get distracted.
- When you work with social media try to do a mindfully. Reserve a certain time slot for chatting on Slack or checking the Facebook timeline. And when it is over, it is over. Don’t let it become a casual activity.
- Walk outside and enjoy nature. Meditation will sharpen your perception and everything will be more intense.
- Avoid TV and radio. Focus on important things: talk to your neighbors, pay close attention to the people you meet.
- Meditation means lerning to let go. You learn to let go of thoughts, likes and dislikes. And this free space can be start for something new.
- Try out new things that come to your mind. As I wrote above I started kitchen experiments and created little handicrafts like the crepe paper roses on the picture below.
- During meditation you will be aware of your habits. And if you are annoyed by certain habit just let the go and start something new.
For me, those 45 days have been an amazing experience. When you do it in a group (perhaps as Zoom course) then it is very easy since you have no choice of leaving the cushion since other people are looking at you. So I recommend meditating in a group with other people. A strict schedule is very helpful. Meditate early in the morning and late in the evening.
I found it very useful to see the 45 days of meditation as an experiment. I didn’t expect anything from it. When I look back I learned a lot about myself and it changed my priorities. And when I think about it I didn’t attain anything – but I helped me to let things go. Medition means to slow down and to let go. This creates a place where new things emerge. Try them out and keep them if you like. And when you start to realize habits that you don’t like, just let them go like you treat thoughts during meditation: let them pass like clouds in the sky. Of course this will take time. But the unconscious will help you since it processes your experiences in the time after a time of intense meditation.
I recommend this experience to everyone who already has meditation experience. If you don’t have a “robust” meditation practice you should not try this at home. It is better to have a meditation teacher you can ask when during meditation painful thoughts come into your mind.