For one month, a group of real people with diverse lifestyles and careers implemented Sharon Salzberg's 28-Day Meditation Challenge from her book Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, and blogged about their experience on SharonSalzberg.com. Read about what it was like here, and check the blog again in April 2011 for more updates. Here, 5 stories from different women.
"I began meditation practice in 1971, as a college student doing an independent study project in India. During those days I was frightened, confused, and hurting a lot. I think if I were going to describe myself back then with one word, it would be “fragmented.” I longed to bring myself together, and I sensed meditation could play a role in that endeavor.
Meditation helped me gather my scattered and distracted attention so I could feel more centered. It gave me tools of mindfulness so I could open up in a different way to pleasant feelings, painful feelings, and everything in between. It helped me replace my regular, and quite awful self-judgment with a state of compassion for myself, which became the basis of compassion for others.
I’ve been teaching meditation since 1974. People I’ve met through their interest in meditation include those of every faith tradition and of none, students, retirees, veterans, fire fighters, police officers, entrepreneurs, professors, non profit directors, dancers, actors, sales clerks, bankers – the list can go on and on, and is enormously inclusive. My hope is that this book will help encourage many more people, from all walks of life, to see that they can indeed meditate and reap the benefits it offers."
Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has been a student of meditation since 1971, guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon's latest book is Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, published by Workman Publishing. She is also the author of The Force of Kindness, published by Sounds True; Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, published by Riverhead Books; and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, published by Shambhala Publications. For more information about Sharon, please visit: www.SharonSalzberg.com.
"I can’t meditate on Saturdays.
OK, ‘won’t’ is probably more accurate, but it makes me look bad.
I have had a pretty regular meditation practice for the past couple of years, but apart from the first six Saturdays I ever did it – and now for Sharon’s 28-day challenge– I have a total mental block on the weekends.
It goes like this: Every weekday morning before I go to the office, I check my email, watch Pat Kiernan on NY1 and then begin the process of psyching myself up to sit. Sometimes that involves reading Jersey Shore discussion boards or trying to track down the exact Swatch I had in elementary school or tweezing my eyebrows under a magnifying mirror to get into the proper pre-meditative state. Then, when I am as close as possible to being late for work unless I get started this instant, I am finally ready.
Everything you’ve heard about meditation is true. And once my immature procrastination is out of the way and I am sitting, breathing, recovering from my self-induced stress and seeing that, hey, this just may be a pattern in the rest of my life, too!, is when the magic starts. Even after all this time, I’m still not convinced I’m doing it right, but whatever happens in those quiet moments is always pretty great. I could not bear the agony of my whole twisted process if I didn’t get anything out of it.