Something like a year of sitting

The last time I posted about meditation was at the six-month mark, back in March when I commented that I no longer had an unbroken streak — I’d missed a few days here and there — but at least I was still doing it.

Yeah, that. And then some.

I’ve missed more than a few days; I think there was a stretch where I missed something like two weeks. But what I said before still applies: I feel like I missed two weeks, not like I stopped. I think I was teetering on the edge of this not feeling like a habit anymore, but I kept going.

If I had an unbroken streak, I would have made sure to commemorate the exact day it reached a full year. But in some ways, I think that for this particular habit, it’s better for me not to fixate on a milestone like that. I’m not in a competition with myself. I’m just doing a thing that I think helps a little bit, knitting back up my capacity for concentration against a world that’s determined to fray it into shreds.

A recent email from the meditation app I’ve been using had an analogy I really liked, which is dribbling a basketball. The writer of that particular piece said they talked to a meditation teacher who’s been at this for thirty years, and he estimates he can generally get about seven seconds of sustained focus before his attention tries to wander. But the wandering mind is like the basketball dropping to the ground: the goal is not to keep it perpetually in your hand (which is more or less impossible in meditation), but to train it to come back where it’s wanted with a minimum of effort and fuss. To have fewer of those moments where you ricochet from Idle Thought X to Problem Y to oh shit where did the last half hour go, I was in the middle of a work thing and then I got distracted. Idle Thought X will still happen — brains gonna brain — but if you’re mindful, if you notice that happening, you’re less likely to hop on the thought train and forget where you were.

So I’m still going. Something like a year, with an unknown number of days missed along the way. That’s fine. I’m still going.

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