So we’re approaching the 6 month mark and I thought I’d check in to see how everyone is doing and to report my experience so far.
I am meditating approximately 6 days per week, at least 30 minutes. Occasionally I will go for 45 or 60 minutes, and more rarely I run out of time and have only 10 or 20 minutes to sit. It’s mostly habit, though I’m not on a rigid schedule, and I usually do it in the morning. Sometimes I will meditate when I first get in bed, but I fall asleep too quickly most of the time to put in any significant time.
I still have not got a “best time”. Sometimes I sit as soon as I get out of bed, sometimes not until I’ve eaten, exercised, and showered. It seems easier after a workout when my body is already relaxed, or first thing when I get up before my mind gets cluttered with weather and to-do lists and email.
That said, I am not particularly trying to have a certain experience, only to make sure I put in the time. I always feel better after, and the day seems to go better, when I have spent time in silence in the morning. I think this is good for my clients, and for me. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether the meditation time has been noisy or full of distractions, the benefits seem to still be there.
The other significant thing I notice more and more lately, is the way I push certain moments or experiences in life away. I literally turn away from feelings that are restless, depressed, or anything other than perfect peace. What the noticing has allowed me to do is to be able more of the time to choose to try to make friends with my experience, whatever it is, in any given moment, on or off the cushion. I’ll be starting to turn away from some discomfort, notice I am trying to disconnect, and then try to stay instead.
It doesn’t matter whether I am driving to the grocery store, feeling terrified of something, or my mind keeps worrying while trying to meditate, I ask myself, “Can I make friends with this?,” and, “what would that be like?”. I already know the value in doing this. Hell, we all know that there’s wisdom within the challenges handed to us by life. The problem is, we usually forget or are unable to override our own reactivity when we encounter such challenges.
Staying put inside ourselves during challenging times is the task, or “staying right on the spot”, as Pema Chodron puts it. We’re so used to turning away and doing something else – fixing, drinking, raging, sleeping – to numb ourselves. In doing so, we miss the opportunity to receive the gift within the challenge.
The urge to turn away can be intense. It might feel like something will explode if you don’t get away. But I find that every time I stay and make friends with what’s here, it gets easier to do it the next time. The result seems to be that there’s less of life that I find unacceptable or unwelcome, and it feels like a net gain because I get to be present for more of my life and hence, there’s more of my life. There’s less fretting about undone housework, being more relaxed more of the time, feeling more grateful, and letting go of lists and ideas of how life should be.
By no means can I say I have mastered any of this, just that I am witnessing the progression by contrast to how things used to be. I also cannot explain how or why this is happening. It is lovely and amazing, and I could not have anticipated it. I am visited less often by the tension and angst about how far from my idea of perfection is this thing called life. In fact, I don’t really even measure it that way anymore. Perfection is already here, in this moment. It’s right there under our noses, if we allow ourselves to see it. We’re just so conditioned not to see the perfection in life and in ourselves.
Enough about me, how’s YOUR practice coming along? Sharing your experience always helps others, and I’d love to hear how you’re doing. As always, you can contact me privately if you need assistance or have questions about your practice or things that might be coming up for you as a result of practice.