Conquering long-term projects with the plank meditation
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on June 21, 2016

 Big achievements require time and effort investments.

That second master’s degree is two years.  Reading War and Peace will consume a summer.  That 26.2-mile marathon can be six hours. Writing a book (a decent one) requires a year.   Losing thirty pounds may take months.

Dr. Jonas Salk was awarded a grant to study polio in 1948, and, five years later, he announced he had successfully tested his vaccine.  The work behind NASA’s space shuttle, from concept to the first flight, stretched decades.

Determination is rooted in patience, a patience many of us think we don’t have.  The paths of long-term projects are riddled with sacrifice, struggle, failure, re-strategizing and start-overs.

You can wait for short cuts or Easy Street to magically do your work for you, or, in denial, you can wait for the Law of Attraction tractor beam to lasso your dreams. You’ll be waiting a long time.

The time you fill with any activity will pass.  At the end of the two years, the summer, the six hours, the year, the months, the five years or the decades, you’ll have something wonderful.  Or not.

Practice longer-term commitment, fire up the will and still your energy with Plank Meditation. Do it once a day or three times per day.  How committed are you?

Days one through five: 

Begin building upper body strength with the top of a baby push-up position.

From hands and knees, your hands directly under your shoulders, slide your legs back until your body forms a straight plank from knees to crown without over-arching the back.

Roll your shoulders away from your ears, and keep your head in alignment with your spine.

Hold for one minute or longer, and, with each subsequent day, commit to hold for at least five additional seconds.

Days six through ten:

Move to a full push-up position.  From hands and knees, hands under the shoulders, straighten your legs by stepping back.  Rest on the balls of the feet.

Push your heels back, and lift from your side obliques and the belly core’s rectus and transverse abdominis muscles.  Push your shoulders away from your ears, and keep your head in alignment with your spine.

Be careful your lower back doesn’t collapse and your buttocks doesn’t lift to the ceiling.

This plank is significantly harder to hold, and your torso will quiver. Commit to the hold time from day five.  Add at least five seconds daily.

Day eleven and onward:

Now, from a full push-up position, lower your forearms to the floor.  Your elbows should be under your shoulders.  Interlace your fingers.

Close your eyes, breathe from the belly and be still.

The ultimate goal is to hold for three minutes and beyond.  It may take weeks, but the weeks will pass.

As you forever endeavor, it never gets easier.  You just get stronger.