"The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something." -- Yamada Koun
In a roundabout way, I've discovered a meditation portal that might be useful for anyone out there who wants to meditate but has found it too difficult.
And I know you're out there!
Meditation is not easy, more so for those who especially need it. The simple act of maintaining stillness and silence for a short, predetermined period of time can be deceptively tough.
And yet we know from study after study that there are measurable health benefits, brain benefits, sleep benefits from meditating -- an approach to wellbeing that has no side effects, requires no travel, no special equipment, no expense -- only commitment.
How I discovered this meditation gateway was by starting to take some online typing tests. As a freelance transcriptionist entering the marketplace, I naturally want to increase my typing speed, so I've incorporated a series of typing tests into my early morning routine.
As anyone knows who's ever taken a typing test, no matter how fluent you are on the keyboard, your mind can really get in the way. If you make one mistake, you're more error-prone going forward. I was irritated right away by the little messages that would show up after the test with my typing stats: "Remember to strive for accuracy," "relax" and "sit up straight."
I'm a yoga teacher, for crying out loud. I know all about relaxing and posture!
Except that I didn't, at least when it came to typing. Slouching while transcribing has been a big issue for me. I love transcribing yet it seems the more engaged I am with the material, the more my posture gets sacrificed. I catch myself, I sit up tall again … and again … and again, and still the tendency to slum and scarcely breathe takes a toll on my productivity: over time the shallow breathing and tensed, caved-in upper body become physically uncomfortable and then the joy seeps out of the job, and I become more error-prone and anxious to finish.
So I thought, what if I flip this. What if what I'm testing is my ability to take full, rhythmic breaths while sitting like I'm proud of myself and my work -- and the speed and accuracy scores at the end of the test are simply feedback on how committed I was to mindfulness moment by moment? What if I keep my focus on good posture and conscious breathing, and leave my unconscious in charge of the typing?
So that's what I've been doing. That's what I'm suggesting. Use an online typing test as a way to test your presence, your ability to manage sitting tall while relaxing, your ability to provide plentiful oxygen to the task at hand. And take your typing speed and number of errors as feedback on how conscious you were. Errors that occur while typing even function like a kind of biofeedback -- oh, right! My shoulders were up around my ears. I wasn't breathing generously.
Maybe that practice will carry over beyond the typing tests into your other keyboard and off-keyboard moments. Learning how to breathe efficiently and without inhibition no matter what's going on, learning to focus on that accepting, uplifted state more than the external stuff you are responding to, can literally change your day, dare I say, life.
And, although you might not be sitting on the floor with your eyes closed, this is meditation as far as I'm concerned. The art of being fully here and now. If you can manage to sit and breathe in a healthy, relaxed way while taking on a graded challenge, you can certainly succeed at the meditation where you do nothing but maintain stillness while focusing on calm, deep breath and upright posture.
If this idea intrigues you, you can find links to two of my favorite online typing tests in the TRANSCRIPTION tab on this website.
Good luck -- and I would love to hear from you if you try this experiment!