February 04, 2014

Meditation Month: A Focusing Fail

Day four of our monthlong challengeJoanna Piacenza

February is Meditation Month! The Tricycle team members have challenged ourselves—and our readers—to meditate every day and blog about our experiences. We needed a little help, so we called in bestselling author and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg to lead our meditation-themed retreat this month and speak to us on how to incorporate meditation practice into the workplace. We’re also featuring three meditation e-books: Tricycle Teachings: Meditation, Tricycle Teachings: Meditation, Vol. 2, and Tricycle Teachings: Commit to Sit. Last but certainly not least, back by popular demand is Brad Warner, known this month as our Meditation Doctor, here to answer any questions we have about our personal practice.


Meditation Month has kicked off here at Tricycle and I have quickly realized just how out of practice my practice really is. Meditating every day? I guess they don’t call it a “challenge” for nothing.

I had to get up very early in the morning to get fifteen minutes (yes, fifteen minutes; baby steps, people) completely to myself, without the distraction of the dog, the boyfriend, or the iPhone. I tiptoed, quiet as a mouse, out of the bedroom. Naturally, the pup woke up immediately, barked, and I found myself outside in pajama bottoms and a winter coat, waiting for the dog to do her business and watching valuable meditation time tick away.

All right, back inside. Satisfied dog, quiet and warm pre-dawn living room.

And breathe.

Ah, this is nice. I forgot how lovely this is. To luxuriate in time when I don’t have to think of all my weekend errands…like how I need to schedule my taxes. Or like that 20% off coupon for using H&R Block. Where was that coupon? I put it somewhere. Wait. Focus. Focus. I wonder how much it’ll be if I just do my taxes myself. Focus. I’ll probably miss something though—they scare you with all of those advertisements. Focus. I wonder if Super Bowl traffic will delay Ryan on his way up from West Virginia. Focus. He’ll be fine. Focus. But what if he isn’t? Focus. I wonder what taxes are like in West Virginia.


Et cetera.

You see, I am not victim to what many meditators suffer through during their practice—namely, that they feel uneasy with the silence and that the seconds crawl by. Fifteen minutes flew by! But that’s because I had fifteen minutes of thoughts and anxiety and “what ifs” and “hmms” to fill them up, no problem. I blame the Super Bowl.

So, four days in, and at least I’ve highlighted the things I need to change in my practice, right? This week’s goal is to calm the anxiety, let the thoughts float by like clouds, and try to revive the diligent practitioner I was four years ago.

Image: The dog on a mission to interrupt my meditation practice.

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nelson.reilly's picture

Thank you for this. I have been meditating daily for the past month, and will honor this challenge of continuing my practice daily through February. I wrote something on my group blog which is located on my meditation timer application, however it is apropos to my attitude this morning because "I didn't want to meditate this morning. I wanted to say, I'll do it later, promise; but, later becomes tomorrow and then the next day, and then the next, and so on. Then I remembered I am not alone, there are others meditating with me. Thank you guys. Your milestones remind me that others have experienced the same and so I sit, and I set the time and I, and I am good. And then, then the moment, the second, at some point in the sitting I become aware of my body (the leg that is tingling itself to sleep, the lower back that aches, the shoulders that slump, the temples that talk to the thoughts swirling) and I am suddenly aware that I am weighing myself down with all this attention to my body and, and so I breathe 1, breathe 2, breathe 3, what number am I at again, ugh that hurts, breathe 1, breathe 2, breathe 3, breathe 4, and continue as each breath lifts the body and releases the stream of thoughts and I make peace with my body and mind and my spirit feels, experiences, and the timer goes off, and NO...more time, more time please. Later. (thank you all for meditating with me.)" that is what I my meditation has been like the last couple mornings. Maybe tomorrow it will be different.


Joanna Piacenza's picture


I do the same thing! Counting calms me. You always know what comes next, right? Comfort in certainty.

All best,

miravalles's picture

Thank you for sharing your experiences! I totally related to the second paragraph you wrote, about sneaking out of the bedroom quietly, trying not to wake everybody up. To me it happens the same. I wake up very early for my daily practice and I do my best not to disrupt my wife's sleeping environment. I'm not always successful, of course. She would always try to convince me to stay in bed, with very strong arguments, I gotta say. So, I'd feel kinda uncomfortable, you know. How to go on with my practices without bothering others at home who are not engaged in the same practices or, worse, wouldn't care less about your practice. Finally, my wife's OK with it and I feel happy and more at ease to go on with my meditation.
So, I bet other people face this too, having to practice in an environment where others are not really understanding what you're doing. I had heard some people say you should try to pull these people into practice too, but I don't know if this would de a correct approach. How do you guys deal with these matters? In my case, I also don't have a space reserved exclusively for my practices.
All the best to everybody :)

Joanna Piacenza's picture

Definitely! The sneaking-out aspect sort of frames meditation as something bad, an addiction you have to feed in solitude. Never a good thing!

Most of the people in my life do not meditate, so they find it hard to digest the idea that I need time and space to myself to practice (and it sounds like we're in the same boat, here). A tip: Ask your partner to meditate with you, if only for a short amount of time. With this experience, your partner will either find her own solace and encourage your practice, or she will realize how difficult it can be and give you your much needed space!

Let us know how it goes!