The first 20 minutesOct 9, 2018
I don’t know if I’m gonna publish this, for now I just want to write. If you’re reading this, then I guess that I did.
The reason I’m suddenly inclined to write something at all is because I just meditated for the first time after looking at a kind of tutorial in the form of a YouTube video. Why I looked it up to begin with is because I’ve recently had a few friends tell me that they started doing it.
Now, I don’t even know why I want to write what I felt. I meditated for 20 minutes, which basically meant that I sat still in my living room, eyes closed, trying to not think about anything in particular.
For an exterior observer, it would’ve been the most boring 20 minutes ever. I maybe moved my legs a few times, and scratched my nose too. I don’t know exactly how to summarize how I felt during these 20 minutes, but I would probably mention a lot of different emotions and the quickness at which they passed. None were remarkably strong or lasted really long as far as I remember, which is not what I was expecting at start.
I felt like my mind felt a tiny bit of a lot of different emotions. I don’t think I’m doing this to make it look like it’s something big or whatever, I just feel inspired to write down what I experienced.
I’ll try to describe now what I felt because it’s what I wanted to talk about in the beginning and, as I’m writing, I can sense the memories going further and further away.
I sat down in my living room, lights off, and started the 20 minutes timer on my phone. Pushed it away, closed my eyes and stopped moving.
At the beginning, I felt nothing interesting. The first thing that went through my head was “Well, probably still 19:50 to go now”. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I wanted to try it and I wanted to succeed “meditating” for 20 minutes. I put it in quotes because I’m still not sure what it is exactly, the only thing I know is that I made it now.
After the first few seconds passed, I remember trying to think about what I was doing, and why I was doing it. The first thought that popped up in my head after that was “Well, probably still 19:40 of doing nothing left. Why am I doing that ?”. After this, I can’t guarantee the chronological order of my memories. I remember some thoughts I had here and there, but I just can’t tell which went after which other one. The only thing that kept coming back and coming back after each “train of thought” was the time left I estimated. I remember this thought coming up very frequently in the earliest moments. I remember very specifically thinking about the times I thought “19 minutes”, “18 minutes” and “17 minutes” left.
I remember thinking about whether I’d be able to do this every day. I remember thinking about where I’d do this if I were somewhere else, and when I’d do this because if I did at all, because my time schedule varies quite a lot. I thought about logistical problems about doing the very activity I was focused doing, like “Am I in the right position”, “Is there too much or not enough light”. I’d realize after some time for each of these thoughts that I needed to refocus and let it slip away, because that was the whole point of what I was trying to do.
I’d say that being able to realize I had to let go that “train of thoughts” was not natural. Each time, it could take from less than 5 seconds to more than a minute before being able to let it go once again. My next few minutes of thoughts were still pretty unoriginal. I was thinking mostly about the act of meditating itself and how I heard people do it, so my mind really didn’t wander very far. Still, even if it happened from time to time, it was hard thinking about “nothing” more than 2 or 3 seconds.
As time went on, I remember continue guessing how much time was left between each of these “train of thought”. They became more spaced from each other, though. At about what I estimated 13 minutes left, I remember wanting to quit because I had the impression of really losing my time. I somehow treated it as other thoughts until now and tried shut it down as I could, thinking about how I wanted to last the time that I challenged myself to. After that thought, I felt more relaxed once again. At that time, some thoughts were going back and forth without this imaginative clock returning back in my head every time.
I also remember having more diverse thoughts, and also some diverse emotions. What was strange is how brief and volatile they all felt, and how they were interlaced with other thoughts about people, events or places. Sadness, pride, sudden anxiousness, feeling empty, then alive, then again questioning what I was doing there, remembering I’m not supposed to think about these things, thinking that I did a pretty poor job about not thinking about these things until now, realizing that I’m analyzing how I perceived I was doing that job, then thinking that the only way to stop following that train of thoughts once more was to stop thinking altogether, stop thinking. Thinking that it was quite a wild ride to just stop thinking about anything, thinking that I’m doing that just again, stop thinking again. Probably about 9 or 11 minutes left now.
Now, when I stopped thinking - or at least tried to - a force always quickly made me aware that I was here trying to not think about anything : My body. When I do not think about anything, I felt like my body signals were the only things left to “hear”, and so they began to take all my attention. Small things like my right foot being slightly tilted was now the only thing that occupied my mind for a second, whereas it didn’t move in the last few minutes and it was up to now of no importance whatsoever. These moments made me realize how difficult it is to really “not think about anything”. You’re always aware of something, always either thinking intentionally about something, or if you’re not it’s your brain that puts something there. Whatever it is. Whatever it can find at the moment.
After having a few of these episodes where it’s my body’s turn to remind me it exists, I remember estimating I had probably 7 more minutes to go. I remember my mind started to get quite active about something again. I can’t recall what it was, or even the nature of it, but what I estimate being not long after that, my phone rang. A horrible default alarm that made me jump and which I’m gonna change for the next time for sure.
20 minutes were passed. I’m usually quite good at estimating which time it is or how many minutes passed, but that time I was quite off, and almost disappointed that I didn’t have 7 more minutes to let my mind free. Now of course I could’ve just done that, but the alarm was pretty harsh return to “reality”. I completed my challenge to meditate 20 minutes for the first time, and got up from my couch already wanting to write this very blog post. I still don’t know why.
As far as I can remember, that is the first time in years that I intentionally did nothing for more than a minute. Even if during that small window of time it wasn’t easy staying motivated to not just forget this and go back to my computer, I have to say it was not as unpleasing as I thought it’d be. I expected to be bored, but instead I saw how my mind was able to fill the void that I tried to create.
Now, I know the benefits from meditation come from the regularity, so I’ll try to fit sessions somewhere in my schedule every day as I’m at least somewhat motivated to see what it can bring me on a longer time frame. I don’t guarantee anything though, I’ll see how it goes.