The last few days has gave me a bit of an excuse to try and meditate more regularly. For those of you who are interested I thought I’d give a bit of an idea what that was like.
I tried to meditate between 2-3 times a day, for only 15-20 minutes at a time. I used the ‘insight timer’ app, which was ideal because it didn’t require any downloading or wifi connection. I just decided whether I wanted any interval bells during the meditation or whether I just preferred silence for the duration. The app has the added benefit of having a little journal writing tool which pops at after the timer has finished. As I had all the time in the world I filled this in each time, which was a really interesting exercise in itself… more on that later.
I experimented with different types of meditation, mostly based on previous methods I have used (body scan, body and breath, mindful movement, metta bhanvana etc). However, we did have a session with a buddhist nun, who along with talking to us a bit about Buddhism gave us some tips about meditation. This included a slightly different way to sit and quite an analytical stance on noticing your thoughts and analysing your reaction to them.
This was particularly interesting as I had been doing some reading in the library (oh yes, they had a pretty amazing library in the monastery as well, based mainly around Buddhist teachings) – mainly some books written by Lama Yeshe who founded Kopan Monastery. One that was particularly intriguing was one called ‘Becoming your own Therapist / Your Mind is an Ocean’, which were based on some lectures he had done in America and Australia in the 1970s. One part of this was a Q&A with a psychiatrist in the states. Lama Yeshe was describing his role as a combination of priest, psychologist and doctor and how many people will come to Lama’s in the east to work on their mental health needs. In fact I don’t believe, then at least, that there was any other option. He described some of the methods he used, but I think the process of knowing and feeling comfortable with your own mind, before careful a careful self analytics, was particularly interesting.
So I had an interesting time both meditating more than I have done in a long time, but also taking quite a different approach to it – becoming more analytical than the usual just ‘being with’. Therefore after each meditation I would make a short note about my thoughts and analysis. I came away with some different feelings about myself, but also about the adventure that we are just starting – both hopeful and also pretty terrifying!
Still I am now armed with my tibetan buddhist incense and a slightly new approach to meditation so I will see where that takes me …