"I meditate, therefore I fail."
- Matthew Toellner

A web log about a simple, highly-effective habit that's impossible to master and frustrating as !@#$%.

post: 16-Jan-2023 by mtoellner

I can't get comfortable. (Day 1)

"My shoulders naturally slouch when I'm sitting cross-legged or in a chair. It takes too much effort to relax this way.
If I sit on my feet, they start cramping up in 10 seconds. I quit."

Sitting comfortably gets easier. Get lots of pillows and try the hero pose. What is the hero pose, you ask?!? Look it up! If you still can't sit comfortably, I recommend trying out a kneeling chair.

post: 25-Jan-2023 by mtoellner

Remind me how to breathe! (Day 1)

"I'm trying to establish a "normal" breathing pattern but it's not working out. I get distracted. Sometimes I feel the need for a big inhale."

Find a comfortable pattern. The exhale is the most important part. Breathe in for 2 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds. Experiment and find your ratio/groove. Try exhaling slowly by contracting your throat muscles, like humming a light breeze. This helps establish a vibration you can feel and focus on.

post: 1-Feb-2023 by mtoellner

I must itch my scratch. (Week 1)

"I'm actually feeling nice and relaxed and my breathing is flowing. Uh, oh... I feel an itch! Now I can't stop thinking about it. Ugh!"

If you're seriously uncomfortable, just fix it. Don't suffer through a leg cramp, for example. But a simple nose itch is an easy, fun challenge that will help you later for shite that matters. Embrace it. Say hello.

post: 8-Feb-2023 by mtoellner

This is really quite boring. (Week 1)

"Breathe in... breathe out. Yeah duh, I get it. But then my mind gets bored and I lose focus."

Boredom leads to all sorts of trouble. That's not why we're here. There are plenty of tricks for this.
During your exhale, try speaking to yourself this mind-centering phrase: Eyes...shoulders...body...relax. Make an effort to relax these muscles as you say them. You may be surprised how much tension melts off your shoulders!

post: 14-Feb-2023 by mtoellner

Is my ten minutes up yet? (Month 1)

"How long has it been so far? What time was it when I started? Can I stop now?!?"

Time is captivating. It's so easy to peek at the clock on the wall. You can't help but to try and keep track of time in your head. But don't feel like you're on a schedule. It's OK if you only meditate for a minute or two. Some days you'll be in the zone and other days you'll want to stop shortly after starting. The point is to build a solid habit, not to keep track of minutes while you're trying to breathe.

post: 21-Feb-2023 by mtoellner

I've got too much to do today. (Month 1)

"I don't have time for this shite."

Really? That sounds like an excuse. A wise person once said, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Bonus points if you know who said that. Meditation strengthens focus.

post: 27-Feb-2023 by mtoellner

Why can't I stick with this? (Year 1)

"Forgive me brain, it's been weeks since my last meditation."

Even the most dedicated practitioners experience a lull in their meditation habit. A few days away from home and out of your element can start a trend of inactivity. When building any good habit, it's important not to beat yourself up for the missed time. Live in the present, dust off the mind and start up again!

post: 6-Mar-2023 by mtoellner

Felinius interruptus. (Day 1)

"Dammit kitty that's a bad kitty!!"

Pets are notorious for getting in the way when you're trying to focus. They always want food or attention, or something. But don't go hating on them if they interrupt you during your practice - they are just curious! Soon they will know your good habit too and learn to leave you alone. OK, maybe not, but pets seem to be good at engaging in prolonged states of calm and focused relaxation. We humans could learn a thing or two from them.

post: 13-Mar-2023 by mtoellner

Friendly intrusion. (Month 1)

"I wish my friend would stop complaining about their situation."

By now you come to expect that your thoughts will stray while you're sitting there trying to focus. It's easy to get caught up thinking about a friend or loved one whom you'd like to see take charge of their life. The fact you're thinking about it at this moment is a sign of importance. Relax, refocus, and approach it as an opportunity. Perhaps (hint hint) there's a healthy habit you can gently suggest to this person to try?

post: 20-Mar-2023 by mtoellner

Waiting for effect. (Week 1)

"When do the supposed benefits of this kick in?"

If you're waiting for some tangible effect to kick in like that first drag of cigarette in the morning, you'll most likely be disappointed. But you must, must believe that it's working (because it is). Science says it takes 8 weeks, but I guarantee you're feeling better already. Besides, you're building a good habit, which makes it easier to build the next good habit, which leads to other good habits...

post: 27-Mar-2023 by mtoellner

When negativity attacks. (Month 1)

"I'm just not feeling the love."

It's time to step up your game and introduce some positive messaging to go along with breathing in a relaxed state. During your exhales, contemplate the following three statements - one at a time per exhale (and paint a picture in your mind):
"I am powerful and I am loved." (imagine receiving a big bear hug from a friend)
"I am powerful and I am loving." (imaging giving a big bear hug to a friend)
"I am powerful and I love it!" (smile - because you're awesome!)

post: 4-Apr-2023 by mtoellner

I must look like an idiot. (Day 1)

"Do I look stupid just sitting here?"

The answer is yes, if you actually care what other people think. But remember, most people don't give a shite what you're doing. And unless you're meditating outside in the park, no one will see you anyway. Here's a trick - sit with dignity. It will help remind you the reason why you're doing this. Any insecurity will melt away after a couple sessions.

post: 10-Apr-2023 by mtoellner

I'm forgetting something. (Week 1)

"I've just completed a great meditation session and am ready to tackle the rest of my day! What am I missing?"

You are forgetting one of the most crucial steps - the reinforcing closing statement. Say this:
"GOOD JOB, <your first name>!"
Say it loud. Say it twice. Say it like you mean it! Make a habit of it. Give yourself a pat on the back. Use this closing statement when completing other tasks too! Good job, you.

post: 18-Apr-2023 by mtoellner

I'm just too tense! (Year 1)

"My mind is ready but I just can't get my body to relax."

You've made the effort today. The room is quiet and you're sitting in position. You close your eyes and start to breathe, focus, and then tension strikes. Your muscles are tingling slightly and you can't get comfortable.
Why not expand upon one of our week 1 lessons? Take the "Eyes... shoulders... body... relax" chant on exhale for a ride. Replace 'body' with a different body part for each verse. Start with the feet and work your way up the body (calves, knees, thighs, hips, et cetera). It's a mindfulness body scan!

post: 26-Apr-2023 by mtoellner

Mission accomplished, moving on... (Year 1)

"I'm done meditating. Time to watch TV."

Congrats? Good job, you?!
But wait, there's more! Since you're already in the good habit zone, why not piggyback another good habit?
Consider doing stretches or some other form of exercise immediately after your breathing session. You've already established a rhythm, now use your exhales to create tempo to help you keep moving. Your body will thank you.

post: 3-May-2023 by mtoellner

Fighting distractions (Month 1)

"Feels like I spend more time trying to avoid mental distractions than actually meditating!"

Sometimes you're right. We already know our minds are pre-programmed to wander. But consider this - meditation is a practice. Distractions are an essential component to the habit. Just try playing baseball without a bat and a glove - you can be out on the field but your not going to improve your skills. Change your attitude, and think of distractions as a welcome part of the game!

Have a meditation fail to share? Contact me!