(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)
I am having a hard time with the body scan meditation which we’re required to do daily for the MBSR class.
Before a couple weeks ago, I had never heard of a meditation like it. It’s basically 40 minutes of bringing awareness to different parts of your body, starting at your left big toe and moving all the way up to your head.
It’s practice at directing your attention to the place you want it to go.
And I am really struggling with it.
I find it so much easier to connect with my breath or my heartbeat than random parts of my body – unless I’m exercising and they’re in motion, I’m not very aware of them. So during the meditation, when I try to bring awareness to my big toe or my knee or something, it’s not easy, and I am very aware of the time I’m spending on this meditation. And inevitably feelings of impatience and frustration come up.
This is a waste of time, Karen. This is such a fucking waste of time.
The first week, I managed to do the required meditation 4 times only. Then I quit, because it was making me mad, and I couldn’t get past the mad, and it didn’t seem right to force myself through it.
And when I brought it up to my teacher, she said my reaction was very normal, and that she thought it was good I chose self-care by stopping doing the meditation for a bit. And based on discussion with the others, I’m definitely not the only one who felt this way about the body scan. I mean, there was even a note in our homework handout that said, enthusiasm is not required to do this meditation.
But it didn’t feel helpful, hearing I wasn’t alone. I felt angry and kinda stuck. I don’t have a lot of time in my day to waste on stuff that isn’t helpful. Really, how is it helpful to work on putting awareness into my big toe?
But then she said this: What we are asking you to do over the 8 weeks you are taking this class is to devote 45 minutes or an hour a day to do these exercises… and notice what comes up. Because something will come up. It always does. But what this class is about is trying to create a tiny little space between the feelings and emotions and sensations that come up… and the resulting reaction.
So my real practice*, right now, is this.
So every day, I sit with the feeling that I am wasting my time.
It’s so hard.
But it’s good, too.
Because, yes, it’s partly about time: I didn’t realize how high my expectations were about how I spent my little free time.
BUT. I’m starting to see, too – it’s not just about time.
I never realized how little I inhabit my body, unless it’s doing something like running or swimming or biking.
I never realized how quickly I think, wow, I’m not good at this, whenever I do something new.
I never realized how quickly I react to feeling like I’m not good at something.
And I never realized how much pressure I put on myself to BE good at something.
It’s showing me that my expectations of myself are pretty damn high.
Maybe the body scan isn’t actually a waste of time.
*In full disclosure? This week I have done a shorter version of the body scan – a 20 minute one I found on my meditation app – a couple times, Because I do think self-care is important too.