Last weekend on the bleachers of our daughter’s basketball game, my friend Jenny Lim mentioned that her family had recently started meditating for a few minutes. They dim the lights and sit still, focusing on their breathing, for 5 or 10 minutes until they feel calmer and more focused.
Of course, meditation’s benefits have been touted for decades (centuries?) and recently there has been more widespread interest and even scientific research verifying its positive effects. I’ve tried meditating several times over the years but always had trouble concentrating, let alone sitting still without my leg jangling.
One of my oldest friends, Ann Callison, is a daily practitioner and even a seasoned instructor in meditation (in addition to being an investment banker!). When I asked her how I should get started, her advice was, “Just sit down and f-ing do it!” We laughed our heads off but I was still lost. (I assume her instructional methods have evolved since then.)
We live in a county that has terrific but high-pressure high schools, so I was thrilled when our son Solomon joined the meditation club at school during his junior year. Once a week at lunch, students gather in a classroom with a teacher and practice breathing and meditation for about 15 minutes. Although I already call Solomon the Zen-master because he is so mellow, he found this very helpful to managing junior year stress.
Inspired by Jenny’s family, last night I asked mine if we could try meditating after our dinner of meatballs. Fifteen-year-old Celia quickly fled upstairs, claiming she had too much homework, while Solomon led Andrew and me through a guided meditation for about 5 minutes.
I wish I could say that I was a stellar student, but first I fidgeted, my mind wandered, and then after about three minutes, Andrew snorted (distracted by the cat slurping water from the dogs’ bowl) and the two of us had an intense laughing fit, gasping for breath and unable to regain our composure. We declared it a successful start.
But you know what? After the meditation/hysteria session we felt really good. We’re going to try it again tonight and see if Andrew and I can be a little more mature about the whole thing and try to practice breathing, focus and calm. If nothing else, maybe it will improve our digestion and give a few minutes’ reprieve before doing the dishes.
Would you ever try meditation before or after a meal? Why or why not?