When the Himalayan Institute announced their Yearlong Meditation project, I signed up right away. I knew it would be a challenge to meditate every day for a year—my longest streak is 116 days—but I also knew I was at a point in my practice where I was capable of rising to the challenge. After two and a half years of ParaYoga study, I’d gone deep into meditation practice, particularly mantra japa. I not only wanted to make a serious commitment to meditation; I wanted to feel more connected to the Sri Vida Tantra lineage.
As I was thinking about how to structure my year of meditation, I decided I wanted to include both mantra and kriya. Since 365 only divides into 5, I decided to create five sub-practices of 73 days each. In addition to my mantra, I decided that for the first 73 days I would practice Samma Karuna, which I learned from Tracee Stanley. Just past the 40-day mark, I realized there were actually going to be 366 days in this year of meditation, since 2020 is a leap year and February has 29 days. Since 366 divides into 6, I decided to change my plan to six units of 61 days each. Last weekend, I completed day 61.
On July 16th, the first day of Yearlong Meditation, I did my practice in a hotel bed, propped up on pillows. I was in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, and had spent the previous day with a terrible bout of traveler’s illness. I was still quite weak, but I got myself into a position where I was able to practice. Then, I embarked on a long journey home: a flight from Puerto Maldonado to Lima, a six-hour layover, an overnight flight to Houston, and a two-hour drive back to Austin. All while still recovering from physical illness. I arrived home and slept most of the afternoon, and didn’t get to my meditation until nearly bedtime. But I got to it.
Three days later, I was sick again, with a summer flu. I resumed practicing with a lot of pillows and blankets propping me up. Thankfully, I was at least strong enough for supported sitting. And I kept going. And I made it through the first seven days.
Fortunately, the rest of the days have been somewhat easier. Which is not to say it’s been simple. My practice time is in the morning, but there have been some mornings where my schedule is off, and I don’t get to practice right when I wake up. I have to make time for it later in the day. There are days when I just don’t feel like sitting. There have been days when I’ve really struggled to settle and find stillness. There are days when I feel bored of my chosen practice. But I made the commitment, and I’m going to stick to it. Because I’ve never regretted my meditation practice. Even on days when it’s been a challenge to make time and get calm, I’ve done it, and I’ve always been glad that I did.
Since I began the Yearlong Meditation, I have been paying more attention to the effects of my practice. Over the past 61 days, I’ve definitely felt more in tune with my intuition. I’ve allowed a sense of grace to unfold regarding my practice. It’s not perfect every day. But it happens every day. Even when I have to squeeze my dedicated 20 minutes into random, unusual times, it gets done. And I’m feeling more in tune with the kinds of practices I need in my yoga life. For example, I began an in-depth study of the five prana vayus. I realized I didn’t understand them very well, and so turned my asana and pranayama practices in a more targeted fashion, and also started incorporating vayu mudras into my asana practice.
My newfound intuition and clarity also means I’m giving myself permission to break free of my six 61-day practices if I need to… And I’m beginning to think I might need to. I’m not sure yet. We’ll see. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Are you participating in Yearlong Meditation? How’s it going?