Deciding to do a meditation challenge this month was a no-brainer. Having recently finished a particularly stressful week at work which concluded in a very busy string of nights over the weekend, I’m acutely aware that my coping skills are lacking.
I’ve had other outlets in my life – running and music (I play violin), which have an amazing way of clearing and calming my brain. They’ve always felt like a form of meditation to me, though the more serious meditation practitioner may not agree. When I am especially busy with work and home life, however, those two outlets frequently fall by the wayside. There are just not enough hours in the day, and I value my sleep.
A local running trail I tried out last weekend.
Mr. Butter Passing Robot and I bought a meditation book, 8 Minute Meditation, around 10 years ago during a time of stress. This was pre-kids, while I was in medical school and he was working full-time in DC while commuting nearly 2 hours each way. We both knew we needed a way to decompress. Unfortunately, neither one of us finished the book at the time. We thought we were too busy (which is almost laughable now after 3 kids…). And so the book sat on our shelf collecting dust, and traveled with us untouched through the next several moves.
About 2 years ago, we made a new change which had Mr. BPR go from working full-time to full-on stay at home dad mode + homeschooling. Our youngest child was 1 at the time, and to say the transition was stressful for Mr. BPR is an understatement. He turned to that book for help, finally completing it over the 8 weeks or so it requires. I’m sure he will share his experience on this blog at some point.
I definitely saw a positive change in him, not just while completing the book, but in the months and now year that followed. Cheesy as it sounds, it’s inspiring. Mr. BPR knows better than to try and tell me what to do, since that usually has the exact opposite effect, but he did get me listening to the 10% Happier podcast by Dan Harris (highly recommend), which has further inspired me such that I’m finally ready to make it through this meditation book.
Technically the book is an 8 week challenge, rather than 1 month, but the “May-June Mindfulness Meditation” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. The point of this particular book is that even the busiest person can find 8 minutes of free time each day, so there should be no excuses. My plan is to tackle this in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I’m not a morning person (massive understatement), so by focusing on the evenings I’m hopefully setting myself up for success. Bonus that it should help relax me and aid a good night’s sleep.
What do I hope to accomplish? Besides the obvious of actually making it through the book, I hope to end up calmer and better able to cope with the stress of work and home. There are many stated health benefits of meditation (blood pressure, anxiety/depression, sleep, etc), and while I’m not sure how real or big those benefits are, this is certainly one of those situations where it can’t hurt. It seems people who meditate all report benefits and universally recommend it. I’m willing to give it a try and see for myself.