Julie’s Week 9: Check Your Headspace

I have an unquiet mind.

Ensō, a symbol of Zen

Ensō, a symbol of Zen

I think the first time I realized this, I was trying to meditate with the guidance of a former partner who was a very devout Vajrayana Buddhist. I was sitting on a round meditation cushion, and my legs kept falling asleep while I tried to hold the prescribed posture. The minutes passed, and I couldn’t stop the thoughts from entering, and I couldn’t stop my mind from latching on and going for a ride on each one.

I don’t feel bad about my mind; Pema Chödrön herself, in one of her lectures, admitted to having an “unusually busy mind.” I’ve been reading Chödrön’s work, and the work of other Buddhist teachers and practitioners, since college. As I’ve moved away from the religion I was raised with (Roman Catholicism) and away from the others I’ve had brief dalliances with (Wicca/Paganism, Unitarianism, shamanic practices, etc.), I’ve found much of what I’ve come to believe is true echoed in Buddhism, specifically Zen. The unexpected passing of my mother has moved me to take my spirituality more seriously.

The friendly inhabitants of the Headspace app.

The friendly inhabitants of the Headspace app.

My first step is to begin a regular meditation practice. A little while ago, I purchased a subscription to Headspace, an app that offers guided mindfulness meditation programs that build skills incrementally. It also features focused sessions to help with things like sleep, creativity, and how to defuse anxiety in a crisis. I’m going to start the beginner’s “Take Ten” program at around 10:30 pm each evening. I’ll be meditating for ten minutes daily, at first, and then I’ll take up a more advanced program.

A famous quote attributed to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama goes as such: “Do not use Buddhism to become a Buddhist. Use Buddhism to become better at whatever else in your life you are doing already.” I’m going take this to heart. Here’s to the first small step in the journey to becoming a calmer, more gracious, and more compassionate person.

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2 thoughts on “Julie’s Week 9: Check Your Headspace

  1. I keep thinking about trying meditation and haven’t done it yet. I’ve considered Headspace before, but I have yet to take the plunge. This post (and all the posts here) have been helpful and inspiring–probably my sign from the universe to stop saying, “I will, some day. Some day I will totally try the meditation thing.”

    Like

  2. Cait says:

    Thanks for this, Julie! I’ve also been trying to make meditation part of my daily life. My initial goal was to do 30 minutes a day, but I’ve realized that might have been too ambitious and backed down to about 10 minutes a day during the week, and 30 minutes on the weekend if I can. It’s been slow going (I also have a chatterbox magpie mind), but even so I’ve been amazed at how much calmer and more focused I am on the days I’m able meditate. I hadn’t heard of the headspace app, but now I’m tempted to try it out!

    Like

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