Meditation Analysis 2018

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This is an analysis of my meditation practice during 2018. While this does include my Quaker practice, most of it involves my (Soto) Zen practice. This gets a little tricky, because Zen has no goal. So data about my meditation needs to be observational. It needs to be just an attempt to understand what my practice is. It should not be used as a metric to determine if my practice is 'good' or 'bad.'

Methodology

I kept a spreadsheet of every meditation I did in 2018. It included the date, the length of the meditation in minutes, the posture of the meditation (how was I sitting or what was I doing), any props I used for the posture (like a cushion or meditation bench), and the type of meditation (what sort of mental activity I was engaged in). The type of meditation was not used in this analysis, and the postures were put into one of three categories:

  • Upright: Not moving, with a well-supported, vertical spine. This is generally seated meditation on a zabuton and zafu, in half-lotus, virasana, seiza (virasana here is distinguished from sieza as being knees apart, rather than knees together in seiza). Upright also includes standing meditation, but it does not include meditation in a chair. I do not feel that a chair adequately supports a vertical spine.
  • Static: This is any other non-moving posture. It mainly includes chair meditation and meditation laying down.
  • Active: This is any moving meditation. It includes everything from in-zendo kinhin to grocery shopping to riding my motorcycle.

Days of Meditation

I managed to do some form of meditation 333 days during 2018, down four days from 2017. I did upright meditation on 323 days (up 106), other static meditation on 30 days (down 125), and active meditation on 269 days (up 48). So overall meditation days has not changed much, but there is more emphasis on upright meditation. 2017 did involved significant periods of knee pain from running, which resulted in more static meditation. Consecutive days of meditation are shown below.

Longest Streaks by Posture, 2018
Posture Doing Not Doing
Upright 160 11
Static 1 12
Active 91 7
Any 160 9

The streak analysis generally show a more consistent practice in 2018, except for the shift back to upright meditation instead of static meditation. However, the longest streak of doing any meditation is down four days. All not-doing streaks are down since 2017.

Minutes of Meditation

I meditated a total of 25,728 minutes in 2018, up 4,489 minutes from 2019. That's 17 days, 20 hours, and 48 minutes. Average minutes per day was 70.5, up 12.3 from 2017.

Minutes of Meditation per Session, 2018!
Posture Total Mean StdDev Median PerDay
active 12741 31.8 31.9 27 34.9
static 5691 45.6 20.3 48 3.9
upright 11572 24.1 8.7 25 31.7
all 25728 28.2 23.0 25 70.5

Means and medians were consistent or lower in 2018 compared to 2017. The exception is the static category, which has very little data for 2018. However, number of sessions was up in 2018, with 912 sessions compared to 733 in 2017.

Meditation times 2018.png

The above graphs shows how the different postured came and went over the year. You can see that I had a pretty steady upright meditation practice through June, when the pain in my knee really started getting to me. The static meditation that took it's place doesn't look as steady up to my retirement, shown by the vertical dotted line. You can see a spike in the meditation practice after my retirement, and meditating more was one of the things I wanted to do while retired. But it drops off within a month, especially the active meditation. This may be because I used to do a lot of meditation on my motorcycle to and from work, but not needing to commute to work dropped my motorcycle usage drastically. Then you see the active meditation come back September, when I started doing yoga and meditating during yoga class. The overall spikes in November and December were probably a combination of the yoga meditation and all day meditations I did on the second week of each of those months. The final thing I take away from this is that I didn't meditate at all the first two weeks of the year. Note that this is not taken into account in the streak analysis done above, so the active not doing streak should be at least 14 days.

Moving Forward

I am mainly looking for more consistency in my meditation practice in 2019. I have upped the daily goal to a half hour of upright and active every day. I want the streaks for upright an active to be 365 this year, although I already had one day where a back injury had me in too much pain to sit upright. I am sticking with meditation weekly visits to All Beings Sangha and Up Yoga. I have been working on a rakusu with All Beings Sangha, which has prevented me from going to One Heart Sangha. I am not sure if that will change when I finish the rakusu, or if I will continue with other projects.