What I learned from a 21-Day Meditation Challenge
Now that summer is over, and fall has pretty much begun, I believe it's time to reflect on our "life-changing" summer pursuits. My "life-changing" summer pursuit was a 21-day meditation challenge.
I am reflecting on my "life-changing" summer pursuit because summer happens to be the time where most people feel like they finally have permission to change their lives. People want to start blogs, make a video diary, adopt a new wellness regimen, pick up a new physical activity. Perhaps this is due to our early conditioning that summer is meant for relaxation and renewal. No harm in that.
But what if the new summer pursuit doesn't turn out to be life-changing? Shame. Wasted time. Wasted energy. Wasted life. But then again, what does "life-changing" mean? Does this mean immediate gratification of newfound glory and magic in one's life? Better yet, is there a new "lease" on life? Love that term btw, it's not overused at all. Perhaps something can be life changing in that it shows you how quickly life doesn't happen. Perhaps "life-changing" means a new level of discipline in the way one operates. In yoga philosophy, this relates to the first two limbs(principles) of yoga: Yama & Niyama (discipline & self-routine). Yama concerns a person's relationship with balance, while niyama concerns a person's level of discipline in their daily routines. I learned this at my newly life-changing 200 hour yoga teacher training, thank ya very much! On that note, a 21-day meditation challenge certainly helps with and enhances those two important limbs of yoga. On a follow-up note, I've learned that the reward from embarking on a 21 day challenge of any sort must come entirely from an internal source. There is no piece of paper certifying your experience or growth, there is no magical dancing fairy that will emerge from the bushes to grant you a magic life, and there is hardly even a pat on the back.
There is, if you are lucky, the raw and pure taste of self-assurance, growth, and gratitude that naturally comes from fulfilling a promise once made to yourself. 21 days is not a joke of a commitment, but it also isn't an impossible commitment. What's more challenging than a 21-day commitment is the integration of what was learned during those 21 days into the next 21 days that follow. How easy is it to chant namaste (with or without intention) for 21 days, and then scream "fuck you and yo mama!" on day 22? At that point, all is lost and you really have wasted your time.
In the end, it's important to remember the initial purpose of any 21-day challenge or journey. Are you just passing time? Are you trying to please someone else? Are you trying to present a false representation of yourself? Are you lost? Now if you're lost, that's okay. You may indeed find yourself in this new pursuit. Just don't always expect to find a perfect self. I expected to find my most perfectly pure self while on this journey. Much to my chagrin, my pure self is not perfect. I found that my imperfect pure self is not meant to be a perfect creature. I am meant to be whole, that's why I meditate. You may end up finding the part of yourself that you've been hiding from the world. You may end up finding an ugly self, a bruised self, an incomplete self. But that's okay. That's why we keep coming back to the regimen. But if you do indeed find something unexpected or imperfect on your journey, go with it. Explore it. Dissect it. I don't believe in trying to rid ourselves of who we are or who we've been. We should instead explore who we are and who we've been. Little by little, aspects of life will begin to change and shift, as our perception of self and others begins to change and shift as well. The reward is internal, no matter how deep or uncomfortable, the reward is internal and ultimately worth the ride/life-changing.