Vincent Ritter

Observations of starting to meditate: the first 10 days

Just after the Christmas holiday I started a course for meditating. I tried to dip in a few times before, but always loosing my drive to push on.

For anyone interested, I’m using the Waking Up course and app by Sam Harris. He’s got a great voice and is easy to listen to. The app is simple and doesn’t throw a lot of visual clutter in your face.

I’m on day 10 (also took one day off) at the moment and I thought I’ll share what is happening.

Day 1 - 5

This was more an introduction to sit comfortably and concentrate on your breathing and then feelings that you notice as you sit and breathe.

In a way, this caused me to not think too much about other things. I had thoughts pop into my head, but I came back to the actual breathing and concentrating on it.

Thoughts usually overpower me, clouding me… like a smokescreen in front of my eyes.

For the first time in a long time I was concentrating on the now. The present moment.

By day 5 I felt calmer in general, my mood swinging to a happier place, being more relaxed and at ease.

I did an extra mediation during the day time on Sunday, it was great. I really felt good afterwards.

Day 6 - 8

Things got interesting. The lessons included more information and more points of reference so you can concentrate on the moment. Observing passing thoughts without engaging with them.

Unfortunately my mind just seems to have retaliated. It was a light-show of thoughts. My mind being cloudy, hard to concentrate on the now. I really tried to push through it, doing breathing exercises by keeping count of the breaths, trying not to loose my spot.

It worked for a few seconds but then ultimately did nothing to cure my thought activity. I was fully engaged with it. It seemed I couldn’t do anything. My mind paralysing me.

I wasn’t satisfied with my progress and grew a bit frustrated.

On day 8 we had to be somewhere and I was stressed by the amount of people crammed in a small space at the Kindergarten. I prefer a calmer setting in general and prefer when there are a few people around. This is just personal preference. I was also somewhat annoyed at the way it was set up.

In that moment, I started noticing my thoughts… and understanding why I’m having these thoughts. This is hard to describe, but I could watch myself get upset about things. I could see which thoughts were causing it. And I was watching it unfold. Like I was sitting in my body, watching out from the eyes but having a book of thoughts in my hand with a script of what is happening on the screen next.

I began to concentrate on my breathing after a few moments. Then I forgot all about the stress and I think it was because I managed to observe it happening, without being cheated by my mind.

Whilst I was unhappy with the progress, I recognise that perhaps this is all part of it. Seeing myself in the present “now" shows me that progress cannot be measured on a session per session basis. Building blocks!

Day 9

Yesterday I managed to get a bit further. My mind still active from things going on. However, during the practice I felt a sense of euphoria. Whilst not perfect, I managed to start observing thoughts more than the past few days. Being able to turn it down and getting back to the now was a great small achievement. Even if it lasted seconds at a time, I’m happy with the result.

Day 10

Today is day 10. I woke up a little easier than usual, even though the day started with a not so good email. I’m OK with this. Usually I would get a cold sweat and my heart would sink a little and beat a little harder for a few moments. Which generally means I’m stressed.

I went straight to my “now”… just for a minute before I started processing the many thoughts that wanted to throw my phone against the wall and curl up in the corner and cry. I recognised the thought process instead of acting on it straight away.

I’m a little calmer today because of that, which usually would consume me all day with anger and stress. Even if things turn out badly, there are other things that can be constructive. The real world is stressful and being able to think clearly is a good skill to have in situations that are not ideal

Later this evening I’ll be sitting down for lesson number 10. Whilst I “can’t wait” I know that I can take 5 - 10 mins any day, any moment and just sit down and observe.

Conclusion

Like with everything, practice is key even if you don’t feel you’re making progress. Just one step at a time can make all the difference.

I’m happy where I’m going, even if the gains are small at the moment.

Will report as I get along.