I have a hard time doing nothing. Just in the time it took to type that sentence, my body created (and killed) millions of cells, and that’s only a fraction of the action occurring inside me all the time. No wonder I struggle to sit still.
But stillness is what I need, and since I’m committed to self-care, stillness is what I strive for.
A moment at a time is fine—a breath will always be enough—but as I experiment with daily meditation, I find that minutes are magic.
I’m currently practicing a three-pronged approach: fifteen minutes when I wake, seven minutes before I sleep, and whatever time I uncover in between.
The fifteen minutes is guided by Deepak Chopra—my friend told me about his latest 21-day meditation challenge and I decided to join her for it. I usually find it extra tough to sit still in the morning, since I like to snooze as long as possible and consequently don’t have a lot of wiggle room before work. But knowing thousands of others are hearing the same words and taking the same pause motivates me to sit, and Deepak’s soothing narration provides a structure to the silence that allows me to effectively focus. I’m only a few days in, but I’m enjoying the experience—even if I forget it by the time I get to the office.
The seven minutes is because of a book called The Promise. The author, Mark Whitwell, quite convincingly advocates for seven daily minutes of mindful movement led by the breath. So each night I stand up for seven minutes, lifting my arms with my inhales and letting my exhales float them down. Sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do, but it’s still the last thing I do. Because once I actually start—reasoning that it’s only seven minutes, and practically like sleeping anyway—I end up appreciating the nuances of my proprioception and the serenity of gentle, repetitive movement. And when the chime on my meditation app tells me it’s time for bed, I have no trouble drifting off.
Then there’s the minutes in between. I’ve been addressing my chronic eczema with varied approaches, and I’m especially intrigued by what Dr. Ted Grossbart calls a “healing state,” which is basically a state of deep relaxation that allows for therapeutic visualization. To reach a healing state, you can meditate or use self-hypnosis, but you can also run, or knit, or do anything else that helps you unplug and reflect. The more frequently you enter a healing state, the less stressed you—and your body—will be.
I found my way into a healing state today as I listened to the new Civil Wars album while riding the bus for eighty blocks. I was tired but content, and the sky was a drizzly gray, and I played “Dust to Dust” on repeat, basking in its dreamy melancholy and gauzy comfort. I gazed out the window, peacefully pensive, and before I knew it, I was home.