An experiment: 100 consecutive days of meditation.
Meditation has helped me tremendously, but I’m spotty with it, repeatedly
climbing on and off the wagon.
This is an attempt to re-establish the habit.
Starting tomorrow, I am responsible to myself for:
- Sitting to meditate every day for 100 days
- Recording the sit(s) here: duration, quality, anything of note
Let the games begin.
Morning sit: 9:30 am, 40 minutes
This sit went better than expected. Having a clear purpose going in definitely
helped. Too often, I sit down to meditate mindlessly, which defeats the point.
This is a practice, and like all other practices, the quality of the
result is a function of the quality of the practice.
My meditation technique is anapanasati, or mindfulness of breathing. If
you’re interested, and do some digging, you’ll find that volumes have been
written on the subject. There is surprising breadth and depth involved with the
simple act of paying attention to one‘s breathing.
I was focusing my attention on the physical sensations of breathing,
particularly around the abdomen. As happens, I got lost in thoughts from time
to time, but only once or twice for more than a second or two.
As the sit progressed, a cool, calm, fuzzy feeling enveloped my body. It felt
very nice, but I tried to let it be and keep my attention on the sensations of
breathing. I found that on certain breaths, where I was able to both relax my
mental effort and physical effort on an exhalation, there would arise very
pleasant, almost gravitational void around my solar plexus, that seemed to want
to suck “me” in. It was strange and exhilarating, and usually disappeared by
the time I was in the middle of the next inhalation.
All in all, a good start.
Afternoon sit: 6:25 pm, 32 minutes
This sit was very different in nature. I felt sleepy and unfocused throughout.
I managed to get in a dreamy, feel-good state, but spent most of the sit lost
in thought. When I came out of the site, I was sure that the timer was going to
be somewhere around 10 minutes, but it was at 32. That was interesting, as the
estimation tends to be wrong in the other direction.
Morning sit: 8:23 am, 45 minutes
I sat down, spread some metta, and then placed my attention on the belly
It took a few minutes to settle in after that, with my mind wandering to
various things. I eventually settled on the breath, and the usual feeling of
general well-being and ease came along with it.
I’m finding that there are (at least) two kinds of mind-wandering:
- The kind where I get completely lost in thoughts and imaginings, such that
I’m not aware of the breath anymore.
- The kind where I notice thoughts and imaginings, but am also still aware
of the movement of breathing.
Towards the end of the sit, urges of restlessness kept accosting me. I was able
to notice and let go of the first few waves of these, but eventually succumbed
and ended the sit.
This reminds me that I’d like to have a more formal way of both entering and
exiting formal sits. Little ritualized habits that I can hook into to help
establish mindfulness and attentiveness on my way both into and out of a sit.
Evening sit — 10:10 pm, 21 minutes
A sit is a sit is a sit. True or false?
True in that the purpose is to get a sit in. So a sit done is a sit done.
Another day checked off, streak kept alive.
False in that presence is no substitute for quality.
That said, I’ll take presence over quality every day and twice on Sundays.
In other words, I was a little disappointed with this sit. And this day, in
terms of meditation.
First, I didn’t wake up early enough to fit in a sit before work. Secondly,
while the actual sit I did fit in started out promising, it ended it
mind-wandering and a general drowsy vagueness that blotted out any claritiy
with which I could pay attention to anything.
I started briefly with metta. And intended to get to some sort of formal
resolution and statement of intent, but somehow skipped past that and launched
into watching the breath. There were a couple of moments there where I was
crystal-clear and just experiencing the sensations of the breath and nothing
However, that quickly evaporated, and what was left was drowsiness and
muddiness and probably mind-wandering, though I can’t be sure.
So, kind of disappointing.
But also kind of encouraging. Even on a day that didn’t start out as planned,
I managed to make myself sit and record the sit. Consistency and continuity.
These are the qualities that I’m striving for. I’ll have to keep reminding
myself of that, because it’s all too easy to forget.
Evening sit — 10:42 pm, 22 minutes
Another small late night sit.
And the story of it is somewhat similar as well.
Started out with some nice clean feelgood from some simple metta.
I resolved to stay with the physical sensations of the breath.
After some initial mind-wandering, I remembered what I had sat down to do, and,
well, stopped distracting myself from experiencing the sensations of breathing.
I then got drawn in to something very quickly — over the span of maybe
5 or 6 breaths.
It was like a calm pleasantness, but the clarity of my attention was gone. It
was like my sense of urgency disappeared, and I couldn’t be bothered one way or
the other. All in all, a pleasant situation — there was no distress of any
kind, but also nothing that felt like clarity.
At one point, just before I settled into the muddy feelgood, I watched a little
battle play out. On one side, I was relaxing, letting go of things and just
experiencing what there was to experience. And things were happening as
a result (see the descent of the calm pleasantness above). On the other side,
like a trick candle, my “thinkingness” kept rushing in trying to make sense of
and interpret what was happening. I’d notice that, and in the noticing, relax
back into just experiencing. The overall experience would deepen, then the
trick candle would catch flame yet again.
That was definitely interesting to observe.
I don’t know what to feel about the muddy pleasantness. It’s not a complete
loss of focus — my attention remains more or less on the breath, but the
pinpoint clarity is lost, like going from a camera being in focus with
a crystal-clear image to everything being fuzzy.
I feel kind of at a loss for how to describe it. And I don’t know if it’s good
or bad, whether or not I should be trying to avoid it. Perhaps I’ll ask the
question of the internet and see what response I get.
Evening sit — 10:00 pm, 40 minutes
I seem to be getting into a rhythm of evening sits. I would like to get
a morning rhythm going as well, but that’s a little harder because:
- I tend to sleep well past my alarm
- I’m in the habit of “get up and go”-ing to work in the morning
I work remotely, so the latter shouldn’t be a big deal, but I like to get
started at a reasonably consistent time in the morning, which is harder when
(1) happens and I don’t wake up early enough.
As for tonight’s sit: started with metta + intention to stay with the sensation
of the breath for the duration of the sit. I’m enjoying the reasonably instant
drop into feelgood when I start the metta — it’s just for a minute or two, but
I get to a very comfortable, smiley place very quickly.
The sit itself played out similarly to yesterday’s, but with less muddiness and
For the most part, I’d notice and acknowledge the mind-wandering pretty quickly
after it started. That said, there was quite a lot of mind-wandering.
On occasion was interesting: a thought (around work) rose up, and when
I “noticed” it, it had a very clear location, in the front of my head. Upon
noticing it, it vanished with a “whoosh” and an expansion from the front to the
back of my head, and on vanishing, I felt thoughtless and weightless, if only
for a moment. I felt very “in the moment” with my experience of breathing.
I was a little surprised on exiting the sit to see that 40 minutes had elapsed.
It definitely felt like less.
Evening sit — 10:10 pm, 28 minutes
I was in a cranky, irritable mood, all afternoon/evening long. And it really
started to ramp up just before my sit. I was in conversation with my mother and
found myself getting very annoyed and upset.
I noticed it even during our conversation, and was trying to pay attention to
the actual feeling of being irritated, to see if looking straight at it helped
at all with mitigating it. At least at that time, it did not.
But I don’t seem to be annoyed at the moment, so maybe the meditating helped?
I do, however, still feel a little edgy/jumpy. So maybe it didn’t?
The metta at the beginning of the sit is continuing to feel very effective. My
mind was spinning coming in to the sit, and no sooner had I started metta than
my mind became pretty still. It definitely gets to the Focus starting line
In addition to the feelgood, there was a roomy and spacious vibe to it today.
Like it was growing from the inside out. And accompanied by the crossed-eyes
bit, which is somehow both uncomfortable and comfortable simultaneously.
As for the rest of the sit — the full-on, lose-track-of-everything
mind-wandering aren’t happening quite so often, but there are definitely lots
of minor jaunts, where I catch myself without losing the thread of the breath.
There are also what I’m going to call blind spots. Basically, patterns of
thought and/or mind that I don’t notice. Today, for example, I realized that
I was visualizing the fluxing of my breath as the flusing of a blue pipe-y
balloon (like the clowns use for balloon animals). That was just
happening, and I had no idea, until suddenly I did.
I’m guessing that starting to become aware of these kinds of mental activity is
like starting to become aware of the tip of an iceberg. That’s both kind of
exciting and more than a little scary.
Evening sit — 11:11 pm, 25 minutes
Again, the immediate feelgood on initial metta.
Again, a promising start. I even had (and noticed) the thought: “I’m going to
get to write down that I had a really good sit”.
And again, some muddiness. I’m beginning to wonder if that isn’t just
a function of the focus and keeping the attention sustained on something. The
sort of wide-aperture lens feeling.
But then again, even while being aware of the breath, I was also aware of many
thoughts that flashed by. I suppose it says something that I’m noticing those,
so I won’t throw the hat in yet. 93 more days to go, at any rate.
7 days! I’ve made it a whole week, with no misses. Perhaps starting tomorrow
(Saturday), I can start adding mornings back into the mix.
Evening sit — 10:14 pm, 50 minutes
So today is Saturday, and I was hoping to get a morning sit in. That didn’t
I’ll get there eventually. Or maybe I won’t. Cross-multiply that with: maybe it
matters, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know.
I thought I would try for a “strong determination” sit — instead of just
ending the sit whenever it feels natural, the idea is to resolve to sit,
unmoving and unbroken (i.e. no shifting around and no peeking) for a certain
period of time.
I chose 1 hour. It wasn’t an excessively long amount of time, but as you can
see, I didn’t quite make it.
That’s ok, I’ll get there next time.
I had some kundalini-style effects. I’ve had them before on
meditation retreats, and they’re always interesting. My body will start to move
involuntarily, in a variety of ways, stretching and twisting and violently
bellowing air. It’s an interesting process to observe, because I have
nothing to do with it. It’s just happening.
I invariably feel lighter and looser afterwards, and today was no exception.
Add to that the following facts, and that leaves me content with the day’s
- 50 minutes, while not an hour, is the longest sit so far in this current run
- the quality and consistency of focus was better throughout this sit than it
has been so far in the current run
So that’s that. Looking forward to what comes next.