Well, I am 9 months into this project, and sitting regularly, 30 minutes, 5+ times per week. It’s no longer a decision whether to, but assumed that I will, every morning. I am not rolling out of bed at 6am to do it, but it is one of the first things that I do in the morning, before things get busy, before eating, checking the phone or email, or exercising. Even if it makes me scramble to get ready for work, I still take the time, and it feels that important.
Though I have not meditated every single day since January 1st, I have been regularly sitting daily for a majority of the time, and occasionally for a shorter or longer time than half an hour. I can honestly say that making this public commitment helped me establish the habit, for which I am truly grateful, but now I sit for other reasons. I spend time in silence every day because I feel drawn to, because it feels good, because it’s good for me, and because others benefit from the balance, calm and wisdom I gain, not necessarily in that order. It’s become a part of my life in a much bigger way, though:
Some shifts have occurred since I first began to sit in earnest. It was difficult in the beginning. I just wanted to escape from my mind, to feel some peace. I desperately wanted a break from the internal chatter. I would cling to the hope of a meditation experience of bliss and floaty transcendance, and occasionally the wish was granted. I heard teachers and others repeatedly say that to transcend was not the goal, but to embody awareness in every day life, in the ordinary. But I couldn’t see the “beautiful ordinary” that they pointed to from where I was then. I wanted it, hoped it existed, and continued to fumble along with faith. Gradually, not suddenly, the goal and the experience of sitting has shifted. Now I get what they were all pointing to, and:
- I can sit for extended lengths of time without effort
- I can immediately become present nearly anytime or anywhere
- The experience of my body is the focus of meditation
- Meditation is not boring
- There is no goal, and no finish line
- There is no clinging to or rejecting anything, including thought
- I am more aware of my body, my “beingness” throughout the day
- Any emotional intensity that arises on or off the cushion has become ground for “work” or “practice”, which to me now just means paying attention to the body without judgement
What Norman Fisher says in this past July issue of Shambala Sun article entitled What is Your Body? accurately describes the place I currently find myself:
The sense that the body is more than the body, and that your life is more than your life, becomes a conviction and a calm confidence in the body itself, and therefore also in the mind.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not sure if I arrived at this place simply by sitting, but I now know that I could have. My appreciation for the experience of body as the focus of meditation continues to grow with each sitting, and I experience ongoing healing as a result of my focused practice since reading In an Unspoken Voice and applying those principles (sometimes with assistance). I feel like I finally understand the importance of the body in this whole process of spiritual development. The answer has been literally under my nose all along. No wonder they call it “embodiment”! It feels like filling up your whole body with awareness. It feels like being fully alive.
I have known for some time that traumatic stress and discomfort with emotions are often overlooked barriers to starting a mindfulness or meditation practice for many people. It was a barrier for me once upon a time and I am so happy to have discovered how to assist others with addressing barriers to practice. Call me for an appointment or attend one of my meditation classes to learn more.