I have often criticised myself for not spending enough time on meditation or any of my various interests.
I love writing blog posts, learning digital photography, gazing at the night sky, running, meditating, and learning web development.
However, the challenge is finding sufficient time to enjoy the experiences and learn enough to do each hobby well.
When you add work, looking after the home and typical day to day living, there is little time to do everything, unless I start getting up at 5 A.M.
That’s never going to happen.
But I have come to realise I don’t need to do everything every day.
Tracking Meditation Minutes
Ironically, one pressure point in the day was finding time to meditate.
I describe it as ironic because meditation is supposed to help reduce pressure in life through calming the mind, not become a point of contention.
Sometimes I would consider quitting the meditation routine, frustrated from not taking the time to meditate at the beginning or end of the day.
The frustration I experienced was made worse due to my reliance on mediation apps. While I initially learned how to meditate through a couple of books, it was through the Headspace app I developed my practice.
Using an app, however, led me to track the minutes, sessions and days. No harm in tracking per se, but apps engender a desire to keep growing a winning streak.
Sure enough, after fourteen days of regular practice, I began to feel pleased with myself.
Then horror of horrors – I miss a night, and my streak returns to zero.
I felt disheartened with the notion of having to spend weeks building up to the point I reached previously.
All Things End
In recent times I learned that no matter how long a streak goes on, eventually, it will end. One strenuous day will be enough to tire me out and make sleep more attractive than meditation.
Maybe I won’t feel in the right mood to sit and observe my thoughts.
Another peculiar thought is how sometimes I don’t feel good enough to meditate, almost as if it is hypocritical to sit in silence when my mind feels angered about something.
Tiredness, moods, or erratic thoughts are reasons I should meditate, but I’ve come to accept that if I don’t, it’s okay.
The main message of this post is it’s okay not to meditate. And it’s okay when you do.
In a related post, I highlighted a meditation timer app as one of my favourite subscription apps for 2021, but I have decided to end my subscription. Not because of the app itself or its cost, but because I no longer intend to count my meditation sessions cumulatively.
Meditation is a Habit
Meditation has become a habit during the twelve years since I first sat down, desperate to find solace in a time my Dad received a terminal diagnosis.
The habit alone is sufficient to keep bringing me back should I ever skip too many days. I have found meditation helps me keep a positive mindset and outlook. I grow to sense something is missing in my routine if I don’t make time for quiet contemplation.
If you can reach a stage of regular practice, no apps are needed. Your mind will call you.
While a habit is helpful, I am free of the expectation of needing to meditate every day or for a set length of time.
My meditation sessions last from five, ten, twenty to thirty minutes. There are no rules or expectations. And currently, there are no guides to talk me through the time.
I have, however, come to appreciate sound, whether it be the sound of the outdoors around my home, tones or other musical chimes. The sounds make for a change of focus rather than always focusing on one’s breath.
I still recommend a timer, and the one I use is the Apple Watch. The timer is only to alert me when the session has ended, nothing more.
One of my favourite discoveries in 2021 for meditation is Raphael Reiter. Raphael gently introduces each session before a 20 minute tonal or vibrational period. I will provide a more in-depth review of Raphael’s approach in the coming months.
It is Not Vital to Track Mediation
Tracking your meditation does not form the habit.
It does not matter how long you meditate or if you miss a day. You will still benefit from regular practice, and over a long time, will enjoy the benefits.
Imagine if you did record your sessions. Say, for example, you meditated for three months, every day, for twenty minutes a day. That would mean you accumulated 1800 minutes or 30 hours of meditation.
Then you miss a day for some reason. Your three-month streak ends and goes back to zero.
How do you feel then?
However, missing a day, or several days, does not wipe away the benefits you have acquired from meditating.
Meditation is a marathon, not a sprint.
But unlike a marathon, there is no destination, no endpoint. And good teachers will tell you to begin each session without any expectations. The journey continues, you reap the benefits, and you will see the world differently.
I would encourage anyone to take the first step of exploring meditation.
Don’t track it, do it.