I'm in the third week of the 8-weeks Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR). In other words, I agreed to try to meditate 30 minutes, 6 days a week, for 8 weeks. If I tell you that I'm having a blast, that's it's fun, enlightening and easy, would you believe me?
I know you did not believe that. And let me explain why my experience has been a mix of good and bad feelings and states of mind. First of all, 30 minutes is a VERY long time for someone who is not use to meditate regularly. It seems long like you have no idea how. The first few times I even felt as if my iPod has stopped working because of how long it seemed between two sentences pronounced by the meditation narrator. Fortunately when you listen to a guided meditation at least you can "count" on the recorded material to distract you a bit and, even if that's really not the purpose of mindfulness (it's more the opposite), it was a big help for me at first. I could never have tried a 30-minutes meditation without any guidance and this voice on the iPod helped me a lot.
The second big issue for me is tiredness. It makes me unwilling to wake up early (er) in the morning to meditate and it made me fall asleep 3 or 4 times while "meditating" in the past 3 weeks. I don't blame myself for it, I just recognize that I'm pregnant right now, that I went through a phase of mild insomnia lately and that I was sick with a cold. So I accept this "failure". It's nice to notice that a few years ago, I would have been so disappointed at myself for falling asleep while supposedly meditate while now, I just accept it and I even laugh at the situation!
The third obstacle: pain. Most of us have some kind of physical pain or at least some discomfort. Well it seems that when you pay more attention to it can go both ways: it's either your pain seems more tolerable because you don't "attach" an emotion to it, or the pain just gets worse now that you're not distracted anymore and that you have more time to notice it fully. The latter happened to me. One day especially I just could not maintain the sitting position so I had to lay down, which contributed to make me sleep!
Finally, I experienced an increase in my anxiety level. I'm still not 100% sure why, but I believe it's from noticing how many thoughts I have during one minute! It's really freaky when you first observe that about yourself! I am usually quickly able to come back to my breath when I see my mind drifting but it still left me with the impression (no, sorry, the certainty) that my mind is all over the place. I guess I'm not the only one...
Even though I went through all this stuff while meditating I really want to continue this process, this journey. I feel that I miss an important meeting with myself on the days where I don't sit down in mindfulness. Even though I could be discouraged, disappointed or bored, I know that these experiences are normal and healthy. I'm not trying to be perfect, or to "force" anything. I learned that any attempt to sit still, to focus on my breath or on the voice in the iPod still brings me something positive each time. It trains my mind to slow down and it's a huge learning process for me.
Mindfulness is about non-judging yourself for being the way you are and for thinking the way you think. It's helping me to approach life with a lighter and a more positive attitude towards myself. The biggest lesson is to accept the challenge and the difficulties without being hard on myself.