Today my Insight Timer, an iphone app that keeps track of how many consecutive days and how many minutes and hours one spends in meditation practice, confirmed for me the 100th consecutive day of sitting for at least 10 minutes, every other Sunday as much as an hour, on a cushion. Today I have set two personal records. 100 days of mindfulness practice is the first. The second record is that I am on day 31 without alcohol, sugar, dairy products, grains, beans, and soy. I have successfully completed the Whole 30 project. So I thought I would check in today to do a little bit of reflection about the results, and about what I think this all means for me.
Result #1: I have lost weight. I’m not a big boy by any means, but things were protruding somewhat conspicuously in the middle. That protrusion has subsided somewhat and I think, depending on the accuracy of the scale or my memory, I’ve lost almost 10 pounds.
Result #2: I sleep better. I find myself going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier. I find myself dreaming more vividly. I have not heard in 30 days any complaints from my sleeping companion about snoring. There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep, kept awake by what I have come to call “hamsters.” But this is an entirely different kind of problem from the fitful sleeping fueled by alcohol that might have been an almost weekly problem for me heretofore. And napping in the afternoon after work has all but disappeared–except on maybe one or two occasions during the month when I was suffering from a minor cold or recovering from a night with the hamsters.
Result #3: I have experienced a boost in energy. It seems I have more fuel and there’s a certainty that this new fuel reserve is a direct byproduct of the foodstuff I am consuming, and more importantly, the foodstuff I am NOT consuming. No sugar, breads, pastas, dairy, or alcohol (I see these intuitively as the main culprits) to put a drag on the day. And it’s spring. There’s that.
Result #4: Concerning alcohol, I know now that if I choose to, I can stop drinking. This was actually a question for me before this whole project got underway. I worried about it. And I meditated on it. And I am happy to report that I am not an alcoholic. As I look ahead, what I hope is that I have given myself permission and an opportunity to rethink my relationship with the stuff. I can’t see myself as a teetotaller, but I can see myself as a person who drinks less habitually and more mindfully, cautiously, moderately. That’s the kind of drinker I’d like to be. And it’s spring. There’s that.
Result #5: I have felt happy more often, sometimes unaccountably so. Maybe only once this entire month have I felt what one might call “blue.” I wept today over the end of Death of a Salesman, but that’s different. That’s an appropriate response to emotional stimuli, rather than a sense of gloom or boredom or discontentedness that would sometimes overwhelm me out of nowhere. So, there’s been less of that. And the happiness I’m describing is not some kind of feeling of fulfillment, ultimate satisfaction, a sense that I’ve arrived, but rather a kind of joyful bug, an invasion of mirth or wonder. Glee for no good reason. And it’s spring. There’s that.
Final Result: I believe somewhat without any evidence whatsoever that my meditation practice made it possible for me to successfully complete my Whole 30 project. I can’t demonstrate a causal relationship, but here are two activities occurring simultaneously in my life. Did the meditation practice influence the success of the Food Project or did the Food Project facilitate the successful conclusion of 100 days of meditation practice or do the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other? Don’t spoil it for me. I think meditation helped. But perhaps, more so than what it is I was doing, it’s possible that ANY discipline religiously observed might pave the way for another discipline religiously observed. And I don’t mean religious religiously (but I suppose if I was a praying man and I was praying for 100 days straight I would be convinced that these prayers were answered), I mean religiously in the sense of its definition, three definitions down: “scrupulously faithful; conscientious“ I could have been praying, sure, or exercising, or writing a poem, or maintaining a zen rock and sand garden, or drinking a magic potion; the devoted practice done repeatedly might just pave the way for other life goals or projects. You know what they say: success breeds success. So this is all I can claim: I think the meditation helped, primarily in the way that it disciplined me and perhaps made possible the discipline I would need for The Food Project, not to mention the other things I think meditation achieves for me: it centers, it mellows, it cools, it calms, it evens out, it stabilizes, it connects, it reflects, it resonates, it quiets. I have faith in the science that says it’s beneficial in part because I feel its benefits. And it’s spring. There’s that too, after all.
3 thoughts on “100 Consecutive Days of Meditation Practice; 31 Days Without Sugar, Dairy, Grains, Legumes, Alcohol, and Soy; It’s Spring!”
WELL DONE! And I’m with you…the practice of religiously showing up for meditation does help build the discipline muscles to do other things religiously. It was after one year of meditation that I committed to daily blogging. I’ve lost track of what year I’m on…is this year five?? But at any rate, I knew I could write every day because I was sitting every day. Then I began keeping a gratitude journal. I kept a virtual journal for the first year and decided to write on real paper with a real pen–which is vastly more satisfying. Been recording my daily gratitude practice in my real live journal since March and haven’t missed a day. And the housework stuff is better too. I don’t get so worked up or resentful about the continuous stream of laundry or dishes or whatever. I see all of that as a practice too. I can show up for it and have a good attitude or I can show up for it pissed off because I just don’t wanna, but it has to get done, so might as well have a good attitude about it! Anyway, congrats dude! Way to go! And regarding the diet…I had been off alcohol for 3.5 years and dairy and wheat since December, and then my 40th birthday happened and my husband brought me to a French restaurant…so I had bread and cheese. And then that weekend he took me on a surprise adventure and at one point we were offered complimentary wine…so you can guess where that went. I asked myself if my thoughts about losing my regimen were more painful than any effects registered in my body. I mean, a stuffy nose from the dairy is nothing compared to the voice that reminds me that I’m not adhering to the moratorium on wheat and dairy…Sigh, perfectionism.
Thanks, Lorien, for reading and for sharing your story. Happy belated 40th. Do you know the Mary Oliver poem, “Wild Geese”? The first line has become a kind of mantra for me against the urge toward perfectionism: “You do not have to be good.” I’m happy with just “somewhat improved” for now. Thanks, again.
Ah, Mary Oliver. Yes, “Wild Geese” is probably my favorite of her poems. Of course, I haven’t read all of her poems, so there might be another one out there that would be my favorite…:D But I resonate very deeply with that first line too. And I think it’s a great idea to take it as a mantra, so thank you for that! “Somewhat improved” is brilliant. It gives us a lot of wiggle room. Ahhhhhhhhh, wiggle room. 🙂