Completing 40 consecutive days of sat kriya and an accompanying 40 days without alcohol obviously means celebrating with pink fizzy wine (Summerhill Cipes Rose to be precise) in the tub.
At points, doing without a glass of wine felt harder than getting to the studio to do the meditation, but two weeks in, wine was the furthest thing from my mind. The bottle of white in the fridge was easy to ignore and abstaining while other people were enjoying wine or beer wasn’t a challenge.
That being said, days two, eight, and 12 without liquor were the hardest. On day 12, it felt like the relatively small problems I’d experienced during the day would have been instantly fixed with a glass of wine; instead I had a good friend cheer me up (yay for Scott!) and enjoyed some TheatreSports. Who needs booze?
On balance, I think I’m happier having a glass of wine when I want one (which isn’t usually in the bathtub on Sunday morning 🙂 ), but it’s nice to know that I have the willpower to get me through days two, eight, and 12 without giving in to temptation.
Although, in the tradition of Dubya, it’s really only half done I finished the 40-Day Meditation Challenge this morning, but have one last evening of abstaining from alcohol to go.
This morning’s meditation at Bound Lotus felt so positive and uplifting; there was a wonderful energy in the space. I know that the last iteration of sat kriya this evening will be even better and I hope that everyone else who did this meditation challenge feels amazing – whether they meditated for four days or 40.
By day 40, I no longer found 11 minutes of sat kriya physically demanding (other than a twinge in my left shoulder when lowering my arms), but the mental challenge was certainly still present. I know clearing my mind will likely remain easier said than done, but practice will keep making it better.
With the end in sight, this last week was a struggle. It felt great meditating in a group on Monday after going solo for the weekend, but by Wednesday, I was ready to be done. Like really done.
Thankfully, my willpower kicked in and I made it to the studio for the remaining meditations. And today I came home from my 40th day of meditation, ate a healthy breakfast, cleaned the house, did my physio exercises, and got on the indoor cycling trainer afterwards! No signs of my willpower being exhausted!
The mid-point of the 40-Day Meditation Challenge (and my corresponding ‘dry’ spell) was Sunday and with it I felt a dip in my commitment. Not to completing the remaining days of sat kryia or going without alcohol, but to exercising willpower in other areas of my life.
I’d chewed my fingernails down to nubs, lost focus in my personal yoga practice, given up any pretense of resisting low-quality chocolate, and settled into a couch potato groove. My rationale was that my willpower was wrung out after letting the wine glasses stay on the shelves night after night and holding my arms above my head for 11 minutes each day.
But is willpower finite?
Psychology Today has a blog devoted entirely to the science of willpower, which explores all kinds of theories and research about self-control. An article on The Great Willpower Debate sums up the question like this:
Is willpower like a muscle that can only do so many biceps curls before it wears out or is it a powerful mental idea that can give you almost unlimited energy ?
I’ve elected to believe in limitless willpower and throw out the excuse that my self-control is exhausted. The Great Willpower Debate concludes with the idea that meaningfulness is an important part of motivation. If we can answer why we want to exercise willpower and make a change in a compelling way, we’re more likely to be able to tap into our self-control.
Being healthy (e.g. practicing yoga and not eating crap!) is important to me, so I’ll file the remaining rough edges of my fingernails, get onto my yoga mat, eat food I really enjoy (rather than whatever’s around), turn off the TV more often… and do 16 more days of sat kryia. And on February 12 I’ll see if I’ve revised my opinion on whether willpower can be exhausted!
While doing the first 40-Day Meditation Challenge of 2012 at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre, I’ve also committed to 40 days without alcohol. I’ve temporarily given up liquor not so much to cleanse, but as an exercise in willpower and to allow the meditation to have as much impact as possible.
It’s a good thing I’m not hoping to detox my liver for the rest of the year by taking 40 days off from alcohol as British Liver Trust and other health professionals state that “detoxing for just a month in January is medically futile.” The Globe & Mail’s article on The right way to detox your liver recommends staying away from alcohol for two or three days straight every week to allow your liver to recover.
So after the 40-Day Meditation Challenge is done on February 11, my more important challenge will be exercising my willpower and taking a couple of days in a row off from my nightly glass of wine…
And maybe committing to the next 40-Day Meditation Challenge when it starts on February 20!