Each time the baby goes down for a nap, his body resting safe and sound, I find a comfortable posture and I ready my timer. I will rest my body, too, and I will rest my mind. If I am feeling very intentional, I will adopt a hand or body position that invites what I think I might need at that time: palms open for more energy; one finger resting on thumb to draw on a particular element. But more often than not I rush into it, plopping myself down and pressing start before I can talk myself out of it.
More often than not, the turmoil at the start is overwhelming. The list of things I need to do courses through my mind like the life reel that supposedly plays before death. Urgency nearly brings me out of my chair 3, 5 or sometimes 10 times. Q, that agent of chaos, that being of spontaneity and pure desire, could wake up at any minute.
What if… what if… what if…
If I force myself to sit here, waiting for the minutes to pass, wishing the timer would go off already, then I am not really meditating. If I get up to do something, then I am not meditating either. The onslaught of thoughts, full of blame, doubt, uncertainty, and fear, begin to cloud the sunny day. My mind says, ‘See, you’ll never be good at this.’ ‘Don’t try so hard… don’t just give up… don’t you think there are more important things to do?’
But I know this game now. I know that these thoughts are always a possibility. I know where they come from (the same places as yours – my parents, my culture, society, my fear) and I know that there is nothing I will ever be able to do to get rid of them. So, I am learning to see them for what they are – a part of a much larger whole. I begin to look for what else is here, too.
I notice the things around me. In front of me is the light switch; around that, pictures on the wall, books on the desk, clutter. I smile at the thoughts of cleaning it up, knowing that I won’t and that I don’t need to. I hear the sounds of construction and I wish they weren’t there, then I remember that I am meditating and I allow them to be.
I notice my body. My neck hurts, I should really make another appointment with…. oops. My neck hurts. That’s interesting. The chair feels strong and sturdy beneath me.
I notice my feelings. I am smiling inside at the persistent doubt. I didn’t used to be able to do that. Now I am smiling at my progress, congratulating myself. Oops. There’s nowhere to get to, and nowhere to arrive. I find my breath and stay there.
Slowly, slowly, I notice the dark clouds begin to grow less ominous, more white and fluffy. They pass in a gentle breeze, still calling to me to notice them, but I just let them be. Clouds make a part of the bigger picture. I am watching more of the whole thing now.
Hmmm… maybe I will write about meditation for my challenge today. How will I start it? I could use some imagery… oops. I find my breath and stay there.
Before the timer goes off, I stretch and give in to the urge to check how much time remains. 1:13 to go. Oops. Not as long as yesterday. Oh well. I sat and I watched and I listened and I accepted and I was gentle with myself. I smile.
I used to feel disappointed at the end of a session if I didn’t ‘get to that place’, if I didn’t feel zen, and relaxed, and calm and at peace. I now understand that the meditation has done it’s job by showing me this disappointment, which gives me the following information: I have a picture of how I think meditation should be and feel. Actually, I have a picture of how my whole life should be, should feel, should go. So, in fact, meditation has done it’s job: it has shown me what is here.
The baby is still sleeping. I have not ‘gone’ anywhere. I have not ‘done’ anything. I have not crossed a single thing off my list, and yet I feel as if I have because the same shift has taken place as if I have: that list is no longer breathing down by neck.
Tomorrow, or perhaps later tonight, I will sit again and see what’s here. And I will forget to remember, and then I’ll remember to forget.
I find that there is so much confusion around meditation. What is it? How do I do it? Is this the right way, or this, or this? One of the most helpful things I heard recently is this: any technique you use is like a taxi cab – it takes you to your destination, and then you don’t need it anymore. This is not about what is right and what is wrong. Whatever works to help you see yourself as you truly are – mantras, movement, positions, etc – do that. Just be. And allow. And do it every day.
3/6 – #SOL18