The title really does speak for itself, huh? If you a long time reader of this blog, or have talked to me in general, you probably know I’m a practitioner of meditation. My inability to shut up about this topic to close friends and strangers alike has probably bored not a small amount of people, but I’d risk being a bore as long as I get the words out there.
But that’s beside the point. The point is that I have been trying to practise meditation for the past few years, but never really got into it intensively. That is until I watched this amazing YouTube video from Nathaniel Drew. Besides looking like a hottie, he also does pretty interesting self-development experiments. In one of them, he records the process of one-hour-long meditation, and his thoughts about the changes it induced.
So my little bean was like, hey, if this younger handsome guy can do it? Then why don’t I try it out? And thus, the one-hour-per-day of meditation challenge began.
You know, this blog post is actually quite easy because I filmed, yes filmed myself doing the challenge as well as my after thoughts day after day.
By the end of day six, I changed my mind and scraped the whole vlogging thing out of the window, because I do not want a stranger mortal soul to see me just fresh out of bed at 5AM in the morning, sitting in a corner of my room, IN VIDEO FORM!
But again, that’s besides the point. The point is that I’ve learned quite a lot from the meditation. Was it hard? Yes. Before this challenge, the most I meditated was 15 minutes. Throughout the week, I realized there were moments where the minute seemed to drag on and on and on. Like who knew time could be so slow? But you know what? I was fine with slow ticking. I’ve been missing the idle, slow life of childhood. Life passes by so fast these days, it was refreshing to see a slow-ticking time where I just sat there and did nothing but looked at the face of a clock!
But what I also noticed is that no matter how shitty my mood was before the meditation, I always ALWAYS ended up happier after. I mean, I was grumpily stretching my wake-up time from 5:30AM to 5AM. It was a hard week. It was crazy to think that struggling to keep my attention on something for one hour can produce such an effect, but the reality corresponds and it did indeed made me happier.
What I also noticed is that, there is a pattern in my meditation. The first 5-15 minutes were usually very chaotic, very mindless as I tried to be aware of all the thoughts and feelings inside. Then there is about 20-30 minutes of mindful exercises. I liked to do either the pebble meditation, breath-counting or calm-smile exercise. What is marvelous is that the last 5-15 minutes or so are pure joy! It’s like I’ve made the journey, and arrived at a place of relaxation and mindfulness. I won’t say it was 100%, but it was certainly close, something I never enjoyed. That state of mind is just light, free and joyful. No wonder why I was always smiling happily after every session.
On day six, I had to travel to a Banteay Meanchey to join Barcamp. Good bye, privacy. Good bye, routine. Because I couldn’t find a good meditation spot in the morning at our hotel, I noticed a drop in my mood the whole day. Not a drop, but I was not as happy as I could be. I’m an old bird. When I travel, it shakes up my routine and my peace and needs at least 1-2 days for the dirt to sit back in.
Previous days of meditation have boosted my mood and relaxation through the roof, and day-six Cheng was yearning for the same boost. So at about 2PM, I sneaked away from the team, and meditated on the bank of a lake inside the university for one hour. It was amazing! Meditating in nature is surely something else. Even one of the volunteers, Piseth, noticed my mood change immediately when I rejoined them.
I keep asking myself, am I becoming too dependent on the practise? Without the practise, would I be a grumpy old man forever? Then I realize. It’s not that the lack of practice makes me grumpy. It’s that at any given day, my default mood is already low-grumpy, and meditation helps to elevate that to joy! And among the choices of drugs, alcohol or risking your neck for “some adventures” for some mood elevation, I have to say meditation is the most low-cost, healthiest and most efficient of all!
Final thoughts? Unlike Nathaniel Drew, who after the experiment concluded that while it was good, it was impractical to practise it everyday, this week has shown me I MUST take the time to do so, or else I’d be a huge fucking fool! It’s like stumbling on a piece of land with treasures in it, but because you think you can find something better, you choose to you just ignore the land, and waste the rest of your life digging at other places instead. Doesn’t that sound like a fool to you? It does to me! I’ve found my treasure plot, and here, I’ll be diggin’ for the rest of my life!
*header image credit: weheartit. I have to say though that this image is quite misleading. You can meditate anywhere, on your unmade bed, on a dirty old bench in a park, or on the toilet seat of a night club because you feel a panic attack coming. You really don’t need to have fancy meditation pants, or aesthetic instagram-worthy views of nature to do so! I just chose this image because the colors are prettyyyyyy~~~~