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Hapy new year, everyone... [Dec. 31st, 2012|07:51 pm]
So, today, I woke up and did a 25 minute work out on my treadmill, to cap 366 days in a row of workouts. I'm torn between working out again, tomorrow... and deliberately skipping, so I can't ever again feel trapped by not wanting to break a streak :-).

I also meditated for the first time in a long time yesterday, and had the goofiest reaction... but let me explain.

One of the simplest meditations is just paying attention to your breath. That's not easy - your mind will wander, right? And you'll do things like say to yourself "okay, thinking about my breath" - and that's not focusing on your breath, that's *talking* about focusing on your breath, right?

But it's like a balancing exercise. Doing it wrong, feeling ridiculous and wrong, doing the crazy-balance-dance, those are all part of it. You're finding out where you're weak, and noticing yourself getting stronger. Even the worst flub is still an exercise, and you're still learning and growing from it. If you could do it perfectly, you wouldn't be doing it - you'd be doing something else. So, you work at it, for the sake of growing.

So you keep noticing when you're thinking and returning to your breath, as best as you can.

One of the biggest questions I've seen people talk about is "what does it mean to focus on your breath?" I've seen people say to imagine a particular spot, and feel the breath moving past that. I've seen people say to imagine the whole act of breathing, and think about that. But I had an idea... what if I stopped breathing?

Breathing is both a voluntary and involuntary reaction, after all. There I was, breathing in when I kinda-sorta decided to, then breathing back out.

So I stopped. I didn't deliberately stop - I wasn't holding my breath. I just quieted my brain as best as I could, and waited.

And suddenly, I felt my belly expanding, my diaphragm moving downward, air coming into my lungs - I was ready to burst out laughing at the surprising way it felt. It was, in a certain sense, like watching a comic do a deliberate pratfall on a banana peel - HAH! Look at that! - only it's not someone getting hurt, it's surprise and a bit of delight (because you know the comic is a pro, and isn't going to be hurt).

I think I managed to sit there for a full minute just thinking about what a crazy thing this body of mine is, every now and again suddenly moving in funny ways and drawing air in, without my doing *anything* to make it happen.

Of course, now the next time I meditate, I'll probably find my brain wandering to "I wonder if I can feel that again" and it's impossible to *feel* something like that intentionally. But it was fun, and goofy, and spiritual, all in one... so, unless I can think of something better, I'm going to let that be my last post of the year :-).

[User Picture]From: acelightning
2013-01-01 06:40 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a wonderful feeling - a spiritual revelation that makes you laugh out loud! And isn't it amazing the way Nature works?
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[User Picture]From: ysabetwordsmith
2013-02-16 02:03 am (UTC)

Well done!

The hardest form of meditation, and unfortunately the most famous, is thinking about nothing. Mixing that into any other form makes it harder.

There are whole schools of meditation that focus on breath, though, in different ways. It's possible to boost physical performance or attain altered states of consciousness by controlling breath.

Meditation modes that give you something to concentrate on -- a mantra, a gazing pattern, a motion like dancing or knitting, etc. -- are much easier. It's still possible to zone out quite thoroughly while doing those.

And yes, the body is amazing with all the little things it does.
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