I recently had the good fortune to attend a mini meditation workshop with Sharon Salzberg. It was hosted by her publisher, Workman, in celebration of the release of her most recent book, Real Happiness. I was excited to go because:
1) I love her.
2) I’ve been meditating more lately.
3) I knew it would be a nice jolt of reassurance to help me keep meditating.
What I didn’t anticipate was that I would have a chance to have Sharon answer one of my pressing questions about meditation.
The practice I’ve managed to establish lasts about 10 minutes a day. I do it the one time of day when I know I’ll be in a quiet room, sitting down, with nothing to do but think: each night while I’m nursing the baby to sleep. Except for those nights when he’s fussy, it works.
I am really happy about this development in my life. It has become such an important piece of my daily self-care practice. I notice that my mood is lighter, I’m less likely to get bogged down in complaining, and compassionate thoughts arise more effortlessly.
I’ve been doing this routine for a couple of months now. And I was starting to wonder, how long will those 10 minutes continue to be enough? Of course we’ll all go through periods where our time to focus on ourselves is limited, and during those times we’ll have to eke out whatever self-care we can to hold a place for a richer practice when we emerge on the other side. But when do you need to commit to a deeper self-care practice, even though life is busy, because a calmer time may not be coming?
So during the Q&A portion of Sharon’s talk, I raised my hand. I told her I used to meditate pretty regularly before I had kids, but now it was all I could do to meditate 10 minutes a night while I put the baby down. Then I asked, “How much meditating is enough meditating?”
My inner curmudgeon expected her to giggle and say, “You call THAT a meditation practice?!?” That’s why I was delighted when she congratulated me on what I’ve managed to establish. She said if I wanted to build on that, I could start to notice times during the day when my mind has gone off in to la-la land and consciously decide to bring my focus back to whatever was happening in that moment. I can handle that.
It all got me thinking on how we can tell when what we’re doing is enough, and how we can tell when we’re ready to put in a little more time and effort. For me, the most reliable way to know that it’s time to turn up the volume on your self-care practice is to notice that you aren’t feeling your best, mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, and that you are craving feeling a little more whole. It’s all about the sincere desire for change—meditating more simply because you feel you should isn’t going to keep you motivated over the long-term.
What about you?
Is there something you wish you were doing more of? Or something you’re doing that you’re really proud of, even if it’s not happening seven days a week?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. If I publish your thoughts in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you a copy of Sharon Salzberg’s book, Real Happiness. The book is a great guide to establishing a robust meditation practice in 28 days. Even better, it comes with a CD of guided meditations.
Take care and keep breathing,