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Conquering the swirling ball of distraction

July 20, 2013 | Comments

I got to work, launched Outlook and discovered that in less than 30 minutes I was scheduled for a meeting with three levels of management to discuss my role in the organization. Whoa. They had understandable reasons to talk to me about what I do and what I would like to do in the future within budgetary constraints. I am blessed to work in a place that solicits and values employees' wishes and accommodates them when possible.

But boy... having a meeting with three levels of management set my head to spinning. I couldn't stop going over the things I said. Thinking of the things I wish I'd said and the things I wish I hadn't. The meeting was at 9:00 a.m. and thoughts about it were still swirling around in my head while driving home at 6:00 p.m.

This would really put my evening meditation practice to the test.

I got home, fed the dog, changed into a tank top and shorts and went outside to sit in my meditation chair while the sun descended through the bare limbs of my neighbor's dead tree. I started a 30-minute guided meditation.

The nice lady began speaking the words that I've heard so many times this month. Get in a comfortable, seated position. Notice my state of mind. Breathe. Listen to sounds. If thoughts come, be aware of them and then bring my focus back to my breathing. Or the sounds. Or the sensations in my body. Etc.

The thoughts of the morning meeting kept coming back. I would focus on breath and then find myself deep in thought again. At one point, I turned up the volume, hoping a louder lady would keep me focused. The thoughts returned.

At another point, I started to cry in frustration because I couldn't make the thoughts go away like I've succeeded doing in every other meditation. And then I remembered I'm supposed to let the thoughts come and just practice refocusing on breath again and again. That's why they call it "practice."

Then I purposefully breathed very heavily to keep the focus on my breath. I breathed loud and with force. It made my nose tingle. And it felt like I was angry or desperate. That's not how I'm supposed to feel.

Then I did something I'd not done before. I opened my eyes and stared at a blade of grass in the yard. Now I had breath, sound and a visual to hold me right there in the moment. It was better. Then I looked up at the sky and found a small cloud. I watched as that cloud dissipated into nothing over the course of a few minutes. And I imagined my thoughts dissipating into nothing.

When the 30 minutes were over, the thoughts of that meeting were still with me, but they were not the swirling ball of distraction that they were before. This is progress.

Meditation inspired by The Paleo Drummer's 30 days to freedom challenge.

Under Pressure Sheet Music

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