3 min read

Meditation thoughts

I've been meditating fairly consistently for, hm, coming up to a year and a half now. Nothing particularly intense, but 30 minutes a day more days than not, following the shi-nè instructions in the Aro meditation email course. I've had a couple of attempts to get into meditation before, but they didn't stick, whereas this time it's been easy to sustain.

I've been unsure about whether I want to write about meditation here or not. Despite all my blatherings on this notebook I've never really fancied getting too deep into talking about personal stuff in public. But then I had a shower and somehow sorted out what I felt like writing about pretty quickly (funny how that works) and I've ended up with this bullet point list of thoughts, in no particular order:

  • The most difficult thing for me so far has been working out how to physically sit for long enough. Sitting on a zafu on a fleecy blanket is comfortable enough but I always get pins and needles 15-20 minutes in, which is annoying. A couple of months ago I got a meditation bench, which was immediately really comfortable and didn't give me pins and needles, but also messed my knee up (I think I got a mild case of housemaid's knee, which always sounded like a joke thing but turns out to be real and painful). So currently I'm sitting in a chair, which is alright, and then I'm going to try the bench again with more padding, as the fleecy blanket was apparently not enough on its own.
  • I keep putting off increasing the length of time I meditate for until I fix the how-to-sit problem, but I can feel Charlie Awbery's The 40 minute meditation dip post side-eyeing me. The last two days I've upped it from 30 to 40 minutes and I'll try more soon.
  • This probably isn't just meditation, because it was already happening before I started this round of it (e.g. Marie Kondo was also very psychoactive for me) but various things work for me now that were sort of just blocked for me before. E.g. I was very bad at thinking about anything to do with money, and kind of acting dead - bad at both spending and earning it unless my actions conformed to very narrow acceptable scripts. Now I have a lot more freedom (though I'd still like more). The effect of meditation is subtle, but I'm pretty sure it's the spaciousness part of the loop in this tweet. After that I still have to actually do stuff, e.g. with the money thing I did a bunch of sorting out finances that I'd been putting off. But it's much easier to do stuff instead of avoiding the whole subject.
  • I've been getting a lot of muscle twitches, sometimes when meditating and sometimes when relaxing in the evening. Apparently this is a thing that can happen. Also some fizzy energy sensations, mainly in the legs and feet.
  • Every so often my mind goes much quieter off the cushion for a few minutes. Normally when I'm doing some mundane task like washing up. Or the other day I was drawing some boxes on a piece of paper, to help me think about some physics thing, and the volume suddenly dropped right down on my thoughts.
  • The sensation has turned up a lot in my feet. I think this my favourite effect so far! I find it really helpful in stressful situations - I can feel into the soles of my feet, and then that prompts me to expand the rest of my awareness out further so I'm less stuck in being stressed. Also, I got barefoot shoes ('natural-foot-shaped' shoes with a large toebox and thin flat soles) and I've been really enjoying feeling all the different surfaces underfoot. I do feel a bit like a head with feet at the moment, though, and I'm hoping the rest of me comes online at some point.
  • I'm much more likely to notice feelings as physical sensations, and not just thoughts with verbal content. Right now I'm mainly noticing what feel like blocks there, but it's progress to be able to notice this at all.

I see a lot of accounts of meditation by people who either had intense, life-changing experiences, or absolutely disastrous ones. My list isn't like either... I'm yet to have a single sudden dramatic experience, just many many small and kind of mundane sounding ones. That's probably closer to the standard experience, particularly at this lowish intensity of practice, but it's less likely to get written about. It doesn't mean that it's been boring, though. Most things on this list are subtle, but the cumulative effect is not subtle at all.