My 14 Day Meditation Experiment

Day 4  – Sunday  14 January 2018 – 13:33 Pebblespring Farm

Well, I suppose if you are reading day 4 of the story of my 14 day meditation experiment, then it must hold some interest for you. I’m glad. Even if only two people read this and decide to try out meditation as their own experiment then I would be happy that by recording this I would have done my bit to make the work a better place. The more you look’ the more you will come to see that so many people who are doing great work have a regular meditation practice. Often it would not be something that they advertise to the world, but with a little bit of in depth questioning many thought leaders and visionaries will reveal to you details of their regular meditation practice. How do I know this? Do I hang around with a lot of thought leaders and visionaries.? 

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My favorite wooden chair

One or two I suppose. So then what is my secret to finding out the strategies, routines and inside tricks of exceptional people. Well, I read books about their life stories. And more especially I listen to a very good Podcast called the “Tim Ferriss Show”. Tim does a fantastic job of interviewing a whole lot of really cool people on his weekly Podcast. About 80% of whom we find out have a regular meditation routine. Coincidence perhaps?? I think not!!

 

But back to my experiment. I got around to meditating only at about noon today. It being Sunday I’m flexible with my routine. So today included another (embarrassingly long) drive to get a cup of fine coffee. A double short Latte to be precise. It’s just so nice! Then I go to pottering around the cottage – I checked the Tilapia. They are breeding out now so I scooped one or two of the fry from the tank to the bucket that I put out for this purpose. Then I got going inside with the tool shelf I’m busy building in the tool room. I told you yesterday that Im busy with a three day fast and I find it easier to fast if I’m distracting myself with physical activity. Not too much physicality like digging a hole or cutting a tree, but some light carpentry works just fine. Then into the shower before wrapping a towel around my waist and sitting down to meditate on my favourite wooden fold up chair. I set the phone’s timer for 20 minutes and sat opposite Poppina as she sat on the couch. She was fidgety and grumpy from not eating since Thursday so she took a while to settle down. She shuffled and applied moisturiser,making little noises that I would prefer  not to have when I am trying to meditate but that I was quite good at allowing not to disrupt my meditation. I was struggling a little with a busy mind. I tried my mantra, but still a struggled. As much as I tried to empty my mind, I was faced with a flood of involuntary thoughts:

 

  • I would think of how I was going to get Drake the rooster back in the coop this afternoon?
  • I would think of a cool idea I have for a meditation “gazebo” in the garden at the office.
  • I would think of the grid of screws I would set up on my tool shelf in the workshop.
  • I would think of writing this report in the “My 14 day meditation experiment”
  • I would think of how it was that the idea of writing a report actually impacts negatively on meditation, because I am trying all the time not to forget what the experience was like, thereby disrupting the meditation…………….AAAAAARGHHH!!

It must have been 10 minutes, by which time Poppina’s fideling an fidgeting had stopped. I was beginning to have longer and longer patches of “meditative mind”. Just being in the nothingness and observing the depth of it.  But then I felt Poppina’s hand on my leg. Her meditation was clearly not as deep as mine or as much of a pressing priority. She had another form of adult entertainment in mind! I think what I am trying to say is that in my records, I will show that today was a 10 minute meditation and not a 20 minute meditation : )

Some of you reading this may judge me for being weak and ill- disciplined and  for not sticking to my 20 minute meditation; “come what may”. To those people I say. “Get a life!!” Seriously, the reason I work so hard in the office, the reason I watch my eating, the reason I work out and the reason I meditate is so that I can experience more fully and with more gratitude this incredible life that I have the opportunity to live. And if the “magic” happens and the time is now to express my love to the most amazing woman in the world, then no office meeting, no meal plan, no gym routine and certainly no meditation slot will stand in my way. Meditation is not a bitter pill to swallow; “like it or not”. No, meditation is a beautiful time. Not asleep and not awake. Completely conscious, but not feeling. Aware but not thinking. It is a beautiful thing and we do it because it pleases us. I do it because it pleases me.

Day 3 – Saturday – 13 January 2018 – 10:58 – Pebblespring Farm

I could be making thinks a little complicated now with this 14 Day meditation experiment. You see I am also now in the middle of a 3 day fast. So I will have to be extra attentive and try to figure out what (if any) effect on my mood and mindset are caused by the fast and which are caused by meditation. A little more about the fast for those who are interested. The rules I set for myself are as follows: (these are hundreds of different methods and routines – choose one that works for you)

  • Rule 1 – I eat my last meal on Thursday night, then break the fast on Sunday night.
  • Rule 2 – I allow myself water and coffee (and a tablespoon of coconut oil if I like)
  • Rule 3 – I do this once a quarter

Really quite easy and with a lot of benefits to health and wellness.

But let me talk about my 20 minute meditation this morning. It being a Saturday, I did not go into the office. The sun came up early at the farm and I woke up to find Poppina writing in the living area. I drank my usual two glasses of water (with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of Pink Himalayan rock salt) We then took a drive to get some coffee at the closest Seattle Coffee shop (which embarrassingly is a 10 minute drive from the farm)

Back at the farm, with a little caffeine in the system, I pottered around the Tilapia tanks for a while before sitting down with Poppina to meditate. We sat facing each other. M

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I filter the Tilapia water though and aquaponics system growing spinach, chard and Peppermint.

e on my favorite fold up wooden chair and Poppina on the couch. I set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes. This meditation was a little different – a little harder to let go of the background anxiety. I think it is because I was not alone. Maybe just more thoughts about how is she doing? Is she comfortable?  I am not sure. But I was able to get quite quickly into a meditative mind. I would snap out of the meditative zone, but there were not long chains of thoughts that I have had in the past. I became aware of the darkness, I could become aware of the self that was observing the darkness. I was aware this morning about how my mind tries to describe what I am experiencing. My mind would say something like ”I can observe myself observing myself” rather than what I could do for only shorter snippets of time, which was just to observe the darkness, to be in the nothingness.

The method I showed Poppina this morning was the method of using a mantra. I gave her a simple three syllable meaningless phrase to repeat again and again and again under her breath. This method is useful because it displaces thoughts that would come into your mind by filling the mind with the “almost zero content” mantra. So the mantra is a great way to block thoughts from entering your head, but it is not completely zero content. I prefer, if I am able, to stop thoughts by concentrating on the darkness that is really zero content, but harder for me to hold than the mantra. The 20 minutes passed quickly. I could hear the woodpecker outside in the Blue Gum tree, I could hear the rooster crowing in the chicken coop, I could hear the door creaking in the breeze, but these sounds did not cause me to generate thoughts about them. When the timer sounded I was in a deep space, but came out quickly. Poppina had fallen asleep. Her meditation was not as successful as mine. Perhaps she will try a five minute session tomorrow, then try to build from there.

So to the question: “What is the impact of my fast on my meditation?”

To be honest I don’t feel any impact. The meditation does not seem deeper or shallower or different in any real way.

But the rest of the day seems different when I fast (especially after I have day 1 behind me) It feels generally more calm and calculated. It feels generally more meditative. It feel generally less anxious. Interesting….

Day 2 – 12 January 2018 – 11:11 Seattle Coffee Shop

I got into the office at 7:55 this morning. I had my usual double short latte at the Seattle coffee station at the Caltex garage in Lorraine. Arriving at the office, I put my bags down, plugged my computer in, greeted everybody and went straight into the my meditation spot. Velile, says he saw me meditating yesterday. He has been meditating before and I can see that he is a little envious that I am building a meditation routine. Perhaps he will join me with time.

 

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Double Short Latte – Drink of Champions

The meditation was good. I sat myself down on the chair in the disused outbuilding. I put my glasses down between my feet. I put my phone on “flight mode”. I set me phones timer for 20 minutes. This time the 20 minute crept up on me very quickly. My method of meditation has evolved from what I learned from a Transcendental Meditation course that I did way back in 1989. I do use a mantra sometimes, if i really struggle. In fact I still use the same mantra the TM people gave me back then, but I am able to now just sit quietly and concentrate on not thinking. (Without using a mantra) Because I am able to recognize the state of meditation that I am trying to get to, I focus on the silence, or the emptiness or the color I see behind my closed eyes. Invariably my mind tries to think, and I try to gently nudge the thoughts away and reflect on the emptiness. If I pereserved in driving the thoughts away as I did this morning and yesterday morning I eventually emerge from a “tube” where I am aware but not thinking, not feeling and where it is no longer a struggle to not think. I no longer have to work to fight off the thoughts, I am just in that space of nothingness. The vast emptiness. I will then slip back into the tube and have to work hard to not think until I again emerge into the emptiness. My objective is to be able to hold the position in the emptiness for as long as possible without slipping down the tube again. It’s very hard to articulate what goes on in meditation without sounding a little crazy. I suppose that’s a challenge that I am facing be writing about this in this blog.

 

After the meditation I was very clear at my desk. A lot less going on in my head. A lot more focused on what was in front of me. I suppose I am only becoming aware of the anxiety and noise in my head now that it is gone.Yesterday, after a good meditation, I pushed hard to get the DEA tender out. I was able to focus completely on that. Ron Forlee came to say Hello. He is working on some projects here in PE and would like to partner with me. John White popped in to the office, there is a big project in Central he is trying to put together. I was able to remain present to both of them even though I was pushing for the tender deadline. I did miss gym yesterday. But I was able to think clearly about it and make the decision that I needed to take. There was not enough time.

I was tired when I got home last night. Poppina had a “girls night” out and I was missing her. By 9 pm I was a asleep.

It was a good day.

Day 1 –  11 January 2018 – Thursday Angelo’s Coffee Shop – 10:30 ish

I had a 20 minute meditation session the morning. I am experimenting with a daily routine that includes meditation as soon as I have but my bag down at the office.

The impact this morning has been great –

  • Number one – I got back to my desk after meditation and found that I needed to clear everything up and create order. I did this for perhaps 20 minutes.
  • Number 2 –  when I got to my first task I was able to get right into it without distraction. Done and dusted. Ready  to go. The task was a very routine invoice that I needed to send off – that I have been delaying for weeks.
  • Number 3  – I received two business calls – one from Darryl Pryce Lewis, who is trying to  add more hours to a tender work plan than I would like and secondly from Mbulelo Notshulwana who was needing my assistance with accessing an aerial photo that was slightly more difficult to get than searching Google Earth. In both of these interactions I have the “limitless” feeling. I am not anxiously trying to get the conversation to end, so I can get on with whatever else it was that i was doing. In both instances I am able to see myself in the ring, as a boxer, seeing that this is a game and that there are certain objectives that I am trying to achieve here.
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It doesn’t look like much but it will do for now!

The space I chose to meditate is an outside room at the office – It used to be a Flatlet of sorts we are not using it for anything right now. I heard someone looking for me and peering into the room while I was meditating – they did not disturb me, I did not open my eyes or acknowledge their presence. My mind went to “Won’t they think I’m weird?”

“Won’t they think I should be working instead?” That, I suppose is what Eckhart Tolle would speak of as my “ego mind”. That part of my mind that confuses my identity with how people around me may perceive me.In any event, I am conscious of the fact that in fact people in my office will have a better view of me, knowing that I meditate. They will associate that with self -discipline, courage and determination. When I expose the script of my unconscious thoughts to the “clear light of day” I can see that they are meaningless and irrational fears. Perhaps meditation helps me to see this.

The other difference that I noticed in this morning’s meditation compared other times I have meditated, it how different it feels to go into my ordinary working day after meditating. (Compared to how it feels to meditate perhaps on a Sunday morning where, after meditating I would perhaps lounge around and not really to any challenging mental tasks. That is perhaps why I have not noticed the profound impact on the noise inside my head. The noise inside my head is very critical of me, is very judgemental, is not at all kind to me. It continually tries its best to remind me of the things I have not done (it does not praise me for what I have done). The noise inside my head continually tries to remind me of what can go wrong. “I may not have money for salaries at the end of January,  I may one day grow too old to be a good man to Poppina”,  “Litha and Noah may not make it through varsity this year” “I may lose all I have worked for in the divorce’. Of course these are all very real possibilities, but the noise inside my head keeps on playing the same record over and over again. The noise inside my head is unreasonable. It does not get it, that I am aware of the risks and have planned for them. It just keeps on making its noise, disturbing me  and distracting me, while I am working on the very plans, projects and tasks that will make the future a much better place for me and for those that depend on me for assistance.

Meditation quietens this voice. Or at least makes me conscious this voice. Meditation lets me see myself. Meditation helps me see that I am playing a game and it allows me to play the game at a much more effective level.

So my undertaking is to keep up with this experiment for the next two weeks. (After that time I will reassess) I will go back to my desk now and I will diarise my meditation sessions for the next two weeks,. I find putting something into my Outlook calendar is a statement of intent. I clearly communicate my intent to the universe. It is not a guarantee that it will happen as I have diarize it, but there is a much better chance of it happening than if I waited for a gap to open.

Let’s see how it goes. There is only everything at stake!