Ten Percent Happier, my go-to meditation app for many years, started the Imperfect Meditation Challenge today. Designed for both novice and veteran meditators, the focus is on dispelling the notion that there is something like perfect meditation. Bad is good, according to this morning’s hosts, Matthew Hepburn and Cara Lai. The latter, by the way, completed a year-long silent meditation retreat. Plenty of time to practice and consider ideas about perfection and imperfection. They challenge us with the Zen koan idea that imperfect is better than perfect. They will be joined by Dawn Mauricio as the challenge progresses.
Lately, my own meditation has not looked at all like the pictures of people sitting peacefully, eyes closed, breath steady, zoned out of the world. I might start a guided meditation with that intention only to find myself rising from my chair and doing stuff while I listen, usually chores like feeding the cat or watering the plants or putting away the laundry. All of these can be meditative if done intentionally, focused on the present action and not telling stories or going down rabbit holes. Of course, those will happen and the moment we recognize those patterns, we begin again.
This morning’s lesson was followed by a five-minute meditation with Pascal Auclair that included a meditative activity I had not encountered before. It’s easy so consider giving it a try:
Start by thinking about rubbing your hands together. Picture it in your mind but do not do it. Spend a few seconds with the image and idea, thinking about what it feels like. Then, physically do it. Stop thinking about it and rub your hands together. So, what does it feel like? And, more importantly, how the action different from the thought? Maybe you thought about the action for a moment before you complete it: my hands are cold, and I am going to rub them together. But then you actually do it. Thinking about it is not going to warm up your hands.
In a similar way, our normal thought patterns can create a disconnect from the present moment and create a veil of negativity around our actions. Perhaps we find ourselves dreading the chores that await us, struggling with the fitted sheets or cleaning out the stinky cat food bowl. We may hurry through them, further frustrating the process, maybe letting our minds wander down other paths and rabbit holes. If we can move into the activity without that veil, put the thoughts aside, and just do the action, we may find a moment of peacefulness. Who knew fitted sheets could provide an object for meditation?
The Imperfect Meditation Challenge is free, and you can sign up at the website. If you find you want to explore the Ten Percent app further, just message me, and I can provide a guest pass for 30 days.