11.01, Friday 25 Nov 2005

I tried meditating this morning. Well, it was probably more like sitting quietly. I was most nervous about the time aspect, so I used a stopwatch application for my Mac called Watch It which finishes with a gentle chime. I made sure my Mail and IM apps were closed, set Watch It for 10 minutes, faced the computer away from me, sat cross-legged on the floor and gazed at, um, the laundry.

It's not easy to try for a clear mind. Just trying it once makes me see how many different thoughts can come up. I tried to count my breaths down from 10 to 0--I can't even do one without getting distracted. But there are moments, during the breath, where there is nothing else, so I focused on those. After some time, I wanted to fidget and stand up. I really, really wanted to stop. This shouldn't be a thing you endure, I thought. But I tried to let that go, and carried on. After a bit more, I was just saying to myself "let it go, let it go" whenever something new came to mind, and then realising I was getting fixated on saying those words so having to let those go to... And then my 10 minutes was up. That was a relief. I was nervous it would feel like hours and I'd feel trapped (I did, a bit), or I wouldn't be able to sit there. By giving myself no option and no possible distractions, and attempting not to "try" so much, trying reach it like some kind of goal, I think I've dealt with some of my nervousness for next time.

So what happened? Not much. It was as difficult as I expected (actually, harder), but still illuminating to experience it first hand. I didn't feel the shape of my thoughts, or anything magical. I'm still within the states of mind I reach by accident. But just as, over that time, my legs stretched out and brought my knees closer to the floor, I suspect that, with practice, I'll become accustomed to my mind, become attuned to how it changes, and be able to take myself further.

There's part of me that thinks I shouldn't meditate--that, somehow, the only valid states of mind are the ones reached "naturally". For a couple of minutes afterwards, I watched the leaves on the tree outside the window move in the wind. There were moments, in-between thoughts, where I was just watching the leaves. Why not spend 10 minutes on that? And then I think, well, I'm not sure I could spend 10 minutes just on the leaves, either. So maybe I'm not indulging myself, like a good meal or a snooze. I'm learning.