Today I watched this Ted Talk about 10 mindful minutes by Andy Puddicombe. He asks the question, when was the last time you spent 10 minutes doing nothing? Not thinking, reading, texting, watching tv, but just doing nothing. With no more than the rudimentary instructions he gives to stand back from your thoughts and let them occur, I decided to give this a try. I’m calling it “freestyle” meditation, because I’m not following any particular meditation style, and I don’t know anything about the “correct” way to meditate. It’s an experiment, to see if I can get any benefits from just sitting and doing nothing.

You might wonder what I am hoping to gain from such an exercise. I’m thinking it will bring me the same kind of peace, the same kind of contentment, that I used to get from fishing with my father when I was a child. There was the initial busy work of baiting the hook and casting, the excitement of catching the fish and reeling it in, but then, in the in-between times, there was something else. Just sitting on the shore, with my pole in the water and my father next to me, watching the sunlight on the water and waiting for a bite, my thoughts drifted slowly across my mind, like fish swimming under the water.

So I arranged my ottoman facing the french doors, where I could see a patch of blue sky and green pine needles. I decided against sitting on the floor because it’s too hard to get up once I get down there (my knee has never recovered from that running injury last year). I set my timer for 10 minutes so I wouldn’t be checking the clock.

I focused on my breathing, gazing out at the pine needles swaying in the wind. I never have been able to do “deep breathing” – the kind they start off every exercise class or yoga video telling you to do. I just never felt I could breathe deep enough, or get into the slow rhythm. Therefore, I just breathed normally. Any time a thought came into my head, I consciously made the effort to let it go. I started to become aware of my body, the way my hands felt resting on my thighs. I noticed that my posture felt hunched over. I sat up straighter, but still relaxed. Several minutes into the exercise, I can’t be sure how long, but it seemed closer to the end of the 10 minutes, my breath changed. It started to get very deep, and more rapid. I didn’t do it on purpose. It seemed like my body decided to do it, like I needed more oxygen. This lasted for maybe a minute or two, then my breathing went back to normal. This was a strange sensation. I was fully awake and alert, but my body was doing something I hadn’t directed it to do. Shortly afterward, the timer went off.

I don’t feel anything earth shattering happened, although I have felt very calm today, I’m not sure I can say the meditation did it, since I have absolutely no one needing anything from me at this moment, and nothing I really need to get done, which sounds like an unusual occasion of calm anyway. But I did enjoy it. I probably won’t post about this every day, but will periodically if something interesting happens. I’ll let you know how it all turns out after doing this for 30 days.

One other note – I decided to take a walk afterwards, even though it was only 48, and my previous rule was no walks if it’s under 50 outside. I’m glad I went! I have now revised the rule downward to 45, if it’s sunny. It was actually quite warm.