A few days ago I passed the six-month milestone for when I began meditating again.
That isn’t quite the same thing as six months of meditation. My streak is no longer unbroken: I have missed three days, two in February, one in March. But I’ve gotten far enough that those missed days don’t feel like I’ve broken something. (One place where not having the gamified achievements turns out to be good, even though those are usually effective for me — there’s no brass ring I just missed getting.) The principle I’ve tried to really absorb is “begin again”: whether it’s the attention wandering away from the breath, a missed day, or months on end without sitting down to meditate, the answer is simply, begin again. But I’m at a point now where it doesn’t even really feel like I’m beginning; I’m just continuing. A missed day is not the end of the world.
I don’t think I’m quite at the level where I can call it an ingrained habit, though. Not to the extent that I can with my Duolingo Japanese practice, where my streak is now over 500 days long, even though the last achievement carrot to bait me onward was back at the 365-day mark. I also have to admit my sessions lately have not been what you’d call great — though I did comment on Twitter a while back that there are two kinds of good meditation days, the ones where my mind is obedient and focused and the ones where it’s like a hyperactive puppy but dammit I try anyway. We’ve had a bit more of the hyperactive puppy in recent weeks, alas. I still sit down for ten minutes, though, and that counts for something.
What about the results? Well . . . honestly, of late things have not been great. Some of you might have seen me on Twitter the other day asking for cute animal pictures and the like, because I was having a very bad day stress-wise. Unpacking why and what I’ve been doing about it is a separate post, but I can’t say I’ve been any model of equanimity lately. Would I be in a worse state if I weren’t meditating? No way of knowing. Do I think it’s been good to have in my toolkit six months’ worth of practice focusing on my breathing, or the lesson of being aware of what’s going on inside my own head? . . . maybe. I certainly don’t think it has hurt.
Regardless, the takeaway is that I’m going to keep going. To nine months, to a year, to more — I hope. I know I can do this, and furthermore I can keep doing it even when I stumble. A missed day doesn’t have to turn into me not even trying. That alone, I think, is useful.