I’m doing an experiment in November

Tomorrow is a new month, and yeah I know time is a human construct and all, but there’s still something I find exciting about what seems like a fresh start. So with that, I’m trying something new for the month of November.

No, it’s not a money challenge, which might be surprising, given, y’know, my blog subject. I’ve done the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month challenge before, although it was more of a passive participation than an active one. I’m definitely due for another month of that. I’m also keeping track of zero spend days via David’s Zero Day Challenge. If you want a money challenge, go check either of those out!

Nope, this month’s challenge will be to establish a meditation practice.

I’ve been vaguely interested in meditation for years and have tried and failed many, many times to get into it. I read and immensely enjoyed 10% Happier by Dan Harris earlier this year and that book inspired me yet again to try to start meditating. But so far (yet again) it hasn’t happened with any regularity. I’ve got various apps on my phone and have used Insight Timer for both guided and silent sessions. I really do think I’d benefit from more mental clarity and the ability to just pause and take a second before automatically reacting to anything. I’m trying to become more mindful of what I spend money on, and can’t see a downside of being more mindful generally!

Perhaps I could get the same effect from yoga, but honestly all of the yoga classes I’ve gone to so far have made me angry instead of relaxed. I honestly think it’s because yoga is a good reminder that my knees and ankles suck and way back when I was going to dance class multiple times a week my body could bend that way, but it no longer does. Yes, yes, I know if I did yoga on the regular I’d probably get a lot of good stretching in. But also I can’t get past the fact that I hate downward-facing dog with a passion since the blood goes to my head in about 0.5 seconds flat. Life is too short for that literal headache.

Anyway, yoga is out for now.

As I was walking to work yesterday morning, I was thinking about how yet again I’d failed to not scroll through social media first thing and definitely failed to get out of bed in a timely manner so as not to be running a few minutes late for work. And also yet again I’d neglected to meditate. Even though I have a set timer all ready to go and have been saying to myself for months that I should actually start meditating instead of haphazardly doing so once here or there.

I was getting annoyed with myself, as I tend to do, and decided that that was going to be the last time that particular piece of annoyance happened. For months I’ve been saying I should start meditating and then berating myself when it didn’t happen. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? No more. No excuses, I’m going to actually start doing it to see if it’s something I want to add to my life! And if it’s not, at least I’ll finally know that.

I started listening to the Slow Home Podcast a few months ago, which means I binged all the episodes from the beginning* and finally caught up a few weeks ago. Throughout 2016 Brooke and Ben did monthly experiments in slow living (and yes, one of theirs was daily meditation), and I really enjoyed hearing their weekly updates on how each experiment was going. I guess I’ve been inspired ever since to do one of my own.

The wording is important here—experiments, not challenges. I loved the way Ben and Brooke described it: that they were doing experiments because the word “challenge” implies you can fail. Whereas with an “experiment” whatever happens happens. If it turns out the thing you’re doing with the experiment doesn’t work for you, no pressure!

So for this month, my goal is to meditate at least once a day. Twice would be ideal, but I’m not trying to set myself up for failure here! I’m starting out with 8 minutes** per session. I think I’ll add 5 minutes each week, but seeing as how I think I’m going to do the bulk of the meditation in the morning before work, I can see that not working after a certain point. I’ve been horrible lately at sleeping enough, so it’s not a surprise I’ve been exhausted; there’s no way I’m setting my alarm for earlier in the morning! So perhaps for the last half of the month I’ll split that time between two sessions. I’ll have to decide in a few weeks once this experiment is well underway.

Stay tuned for a mid-month update!

[*]Ironic, given the subject matter, I know.

[**]I listened to a Slow Home Podcast episode where the guest said that doing 8 minutes feels like more than 5 minutes—which does tend to have the feel of “it’s so short, what’s the point of doing it?”—but is less than 10 minutes, which seems like a bit of a commitment starting out. Eight is the nice happy medium. I’m 95% sure it was this episode.

9 Replies to “I’m doing an experiment in November”

    1. Thanks for reading, Mrs. AR! I keep hearing that even a few minutes makes a difference in mindfulness so I’m definitely hoping I see that benefit!

  1. Good luck! I’ve been trying to get into the habit of meditating as well. I can’t bring myself to do it early morning because I have to rush to work as it is. My favorite time is right after dinner to let go of any remaining stress from the work week. I’m looking forward to read at the end of the month how you are liking it!

    1. Yeah I already neglected to do it this morning because I went to bed later than normal last night and kept snoozing my alarm instead of getting up, oops…

      I like the idea of after dinner! Some nights it seems like I don’t have time for that because I worked out late or because I really need to write a blog post, but that probably just means that’s a good time to take a few minutes to clear my head!

  2. I really like the idea of an experiment, rather than a challenge. I’ve been trying to do a monthly challenge, and I keep “failing”… But if I do experiments, then I won’t fail! 🙂 I like that!

    Good luck with your experiment. I look forward to reading about how it goes.

    1. Thank you, Jena! And yeah, I like that “experiment” is fail-proof. I definitely need that instead of a challenge 😉

  3. All of life is an experiment! Looking forward to the update, there is definitely a lot of evidence that even little bits of mindfulness does make a positive difference. I’ve failed at adding meditation many times too, but I’ve been able to stick with “Yoga with Adriene” 30 day yoga camp videos. It’s a nice 20-30 minutes in the am that has nice stretching and movement and mindfulness all in one. So you gotta experiment until you find what works for you.

    1. I’ve heard so many good things about Yoga with Adriene! I would love to get to a point where yoga doesn’t actively make me angry or frustrated, plus I most definitely need more stretching in my life and mindfulness is a win-win, so perhaps that’ll be my next experiment/habit-building!

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