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Wrapping a 2×4 Around a Rubber Ball

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Reflections on the purpose of meditation

This week’s meditation practice isn’t new to me this Whole Life Challenge. It was, however, something that became a part of my life because of the Whole Life Challenge.

I began my practice in January of 2014, knowing that we were going to include meditation as one of our weekly Lifestyle Practices in the upcoming New Year Challenge.

I had attempted to start a practice several times before, but had never succeeded in keeping it up for very long. I can’t really say why, but that January, the habit finally took root, and I’ve been meditating daily for over 20 months now.

Aside from this being the start of my meditation biography, I think the start-stop-start nature of my relationship with meditation is important because so many people have told me they’ve tried to start their own practice, but were never entirely successful at sustaining it. Perhaps I can help.

As we’re getting towards the end of a week of meditation, you may find yourself itching for it to be over, you may be curious if you’re going to keep going, and you may be wondering “what use is it anyway?”

I can tell you that after 20 months of daily meditation – which by no means makes me an expert – that I’m:

  • Usually itching for it to be over (sometimes even before it starts)
  • Constantly curious if I’m going to keep going
  • and almost always wondering “what use is it anyway?”

This inner turmoil could be a reason to quit the practice, but for me, continuing to meditate in spite of these questions is the practice, and getting comfortable with silence is as good a reason as any to keep going.

The only answer to my curiosity about whether I’ll continue comes day-by-day. It’s a question whose answer comes when my butt hits the cushion.

As for “what use is it?”, if you believe the sages, it’s a purposeless practice. That is the purpose. But trying to wrap my head around that idea is like trying to wrap a two-by-four around a rubber ball.

Gurus aside, practice has taught me that my purpose constantly evolves. I start and continue for reasons I can currently understand — like creating calmness, slowing down my own interpretations of my random thoughts, and taking a conscious break from the breakneck pace of life.

I’ve had moments of profound silence, insight, and creativity while meditating. If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that sitting in that calm, silent, creative space and not wondering if I’m doing it right or if something else should be happening is the surest way for the next purpose to be uncovered, for me to find just enough to keep going.

I hope that you’ve found purpose in your meditation practice so far, and will continue it beyond the bounds of the Whole Life Challenge. Someday, perhaps we’ll all wrap that two-by-four around that rubber ball.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.