This fall, my daughter and I engaged in a meditation experiment. This experiment was part of a class assignment that I could design for myself or include others in the design. My daughter agreed to participate and we began to design a 4 week meditation plan to see if meditation could help our sleep. I read articles learning about other experiments of meditation and sleep. Most of the things I read said that even a small amount of meditation everyday positively effects the quality of sleep. As we thought about how to design and daily questionnaire to chart our sleep, we began to ask other questions. Would we see that over time, we would feel drawn to the practice or less resistant to adding one more thing to our day? Would this help us become more aware of our breath during the day allowing that breath awareness to reduce anxiety and stress? Would the meditation practice positively affect how we felt about our day meaning would our attitude change towards the experiences we had during the day? Would there be immediate benefits to the practice?
Click back to the last 3 blogs this month (April 2019) if you would like to read about the full experiment.
The third week in our experiment, we practiced 5 days. This week, my reading challenged me to consider the spirituality of meditation. This is easy for me as a minister and as a person who views human beings in a wholistic way. My first week at Baylor University, we were given a Wellness Wheel. The wheel contained all the parts of living a whole life. They taught that sometimes the wheel gets off balance like when you are in school and you are focused on all that you can learn. Sometimes, we get so focused on one area that we forget to take the time to keep supporting the other aspects of who we are. So much of our culture dissects all our parts forgetting that each part effects all the other parts. So for me, I easily connect to the idea that meditation effects the entire person: physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual (and I would add sexual, but Baylor did not put that on the wellness wheel!! I was in the first class that they allowed to dance on campus. Sheesh. We are dancing beings as well).
I recently had a conversation with a Mindfulness researcher down at the University of Houston. He was trying to do research on what he called “spiritual meditation.” I asked him what he meant by “spiritual meditation” and he explained that there is “secular meditation” that does not call on a Divine being and then there is “spiritual meditation” that calls on a divine being. I understood intellectually his definitions, but they felt like we were engaging in dissection of the human being. What if no matter if we call on a divine being, we feel that the practice is spiritual?
The third week’s results:
(scale of 1 being negative and 10 being the most positive)
|How was your day||8||7.4|
|Do you feel drawn to the practice||5.4||8.6|
|Did you check in with your breath today||0||4.8|
|How do you feel now||6.4||6.4|
|How do you feel after the practice||8||8.6|
|Sleep after Meditation||7.2||5.8|
|Sleep without Meditation||6||3|
We did not have a good week with sleep all around, but our numbers showed much better sleep after meditation than the nights without the practice. This week, I experienced an unusual sensation. During the practice, I started to feel weightless and then a sudden drop into deep connectedness with peace, joy, love. After the practice, I noted my experience and went from feeling like a 6 before the practice to a 9 after 18 minutes of meditation!!