‘Breathing and the art of starting over again’
Week One of Salzberg’s meditation program focuses on concentration. Concentration is all about calming and focusing your attention, this will make you feel re-energised.
Being concentrated is going to help you to be mindful and is going to combat the ‘foggy’ feeling of everyday life with all its worries and external distractions.
Fussy everyday life
The exercises of the first week focus primarily on breathing.
In this first week the aim is to meditate 3 times a week for 20 minutes.
It sounds a bit hard, 20 minutes seem like an eternity if you put it like this but the book also says you can start with 10 minutes and built it up from there on if you’re a bit intimidated by it.
20 minutes seemed impossible for me as well, so I started my first session with 15 minutes, as these went by surprisingly quick I decided to try 20 from then onwards.
A bit of focus puts things into another perspective
It’s not trying to focus for as long as possible that’s important, but learning to let things go without judging them. This will show you that you have the ability to start over and it will make you less harsh on yourself.
For my own meditations I mainly focused on the first exercise the book mentions. You just have to sit (or lie) down in an easy position and focus on your breathing. Inevitably you will start to think about other stuff and at that moment you just have to realize you’re not focused any more, without connoting the action (don’t be mad, don’t feel like a failure, or if it’s a happy thought, don’t try to hold on to it) just accept you’re thinking about something else, let that thought drift away and try to focus on your breathing again.
Personally, I think it’s useful to write down some notes (I took notes in my diary), just write down which exercise you tried, for how long you did it and a few key words that show how you felt. Some of the key words I used this week : focused, worried, sleepy (I wrote down sleepy a lot ;)), contented, relaxed.
‘Success in meditation isn’t measured by what happens to us, but with how we deal with things that happen.’
Side note: I read this book in Dutch so my use of terms can be a bit vague, as can the quotes be, cause I translated them into English.
Next post on this subject will be about the second week of the program, mindfulness and the body.
Other posts on this subject:
Real Happiness: the Power of Meditation
Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation – Introductory Post