It’s November 1 and 2017 is going to be here before we know it. I feel like a broken record, but where has the time gone? This year has passed so quickly and I know the holiday season will be no different.
Every year our yoga studio hosts a 62 Day Challenge from November 1-January 1. It’s a practice challenge where participants choose to complete 62 practices in 62 days or 31 practices in 62 days. These types of challenges are pretty commonplace in the yoga world but we do ours at a very unique time of year. You’d think that we’d start something like this in January but we host it during two of the busiest months of the year for a reason.
The intention is to help our students and staff stay connected to their self-care practices during a time of year that has a tendency to be stressful, rushed and a bit over-indulgent. The hope is that they show up to January 1 feeling like a very bright, clear, present and healthy version of themselves instead of like they’re digging out of a hole.
As the marketing director for the studio, I organize the challenge and have also participated in it several years in the past (this is our sixth year!). I thought about putting my name on the board for this year’s challenge but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. First, I am heavily in the swing of training for fall races and don’t want to have the pressure to feel like I need to practice yoga after running 15 miles. Don’t get me wrong, my yoga practice is a HUGE part of my run recovery and staying healthy so I can run but I don’t want to feel pressured to do it every single day on top of my training runs. Second, I honestly am still struggling with showing up for my practice. It’s getting easier but it’s so incredibly emotional for me and some days I just can’t go there. If that makes any sense at all. I’m not running from my feelings but I can’t go head-to-head with them every day. Some days we just need to co-exist as I learn how to wrap myself around them.
Tanner asked me to practice with him tonight but I run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (typically) and I had yet to get my run done for the day. I typically get it done in the mornings but I waited for whatever reason today. I was so torn on whether to run or practice. I felt guilty for not practicing and not committing to the challenge. He headed to the studio and I leashed up Zoey for a slow, easy run. We ended up covering 6 miles and I kept the pace super chill at about 9:40ish miles. While I was running I listened to Gabrielle Bernstein’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back.
Around mile 4 I had a huge epiphany. It’s not a 62 day yoga challenge that I need right now but rather a 62 day MEDITATION challenge.
For years I have flirted with the idea of getting serious about daily meditation. I have all of these dreams of making it happen and how amazing and enlightening it’s going to be but then I don’t make it a priority. Like, at all. Since my brother’s death, I have felt so pulled to meditation, prayer and journaling. As I ran tonight and listened to Gabby talk about the power of meditation, I knew it was a sign that it’s time to make a change in my life.
I got home from my run, showered, sat in a comfortable seated position in one of my favorite spots in our house, closed my eyes and set a meditation timer for 10 minutes (I use the Insight Timer app). I focused on taking deep, steady, even-count inhales and exhales and just like that 10 minutes were up. I won’t lie and say that my mind didn’t wander or I didn’t think about my back being tight but I did it. And I’m going to keep doing it for the next 62 days in hopes that this time it sticks. It’s something I desperately need on so many levels.
Meditation isn’t hard but I’m the poster child for how hard it can be to put into practice. It’s as simple as setting a timer for 5, 10, 20 minutes (however long you want) and sitting quietly with your eyes closed and breathing. Over the course of my personal meditation challenge, I also plan on exploring alternate meditation techniques as well as guided meditations but for now sitting quietly and breathing is a really good start. I could scream over how many excuses I’ve made not to do it when I can spend 30 minutes looking at SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook without pause or second thought.
I won’t go into a ton of detail on the benefits of meditation in this post but this infographic provides a pretty good snapshot.
I’m not going to make this into a big deal, I’m just going to do it. And I’d love for you to join me if it’s something that interests or speaks to you. There are no rules or plans to follow. I’ll share some of my favorite resources as I move through my own personal challenge but I encourage you to start by just sitting, closing your eyes and breathing. Let’s make it simple. We don’t need a recipe or a training plan for everything in our lives.
Happy November everyone.