A couple of weeks ago, Rebecca and I wrote that we were participating in Winter Feast, a 40-day worldwide meditation practice.
Although the Feast asks for people to commit 40 minutes a day every day of the time period, I tried to commit to a more realistic expectation -- 20 minutes of meditation at least 4 days a week.
I am proud to say that I have sat every day since the beginning, today being the 15th day;
I started at 20 minutes and have increased to 30 minutes on most days.
Things have changed during that time. I've gotten more comfortable and less fidgety sitting quietly and I look forward to the sit. I have had to cut back on some other activities to fit meditation into my schedule. I am OK that I have decreased computer time in the morning but not so happy that I am also exercising less days a week. For now I won't pressure myself about that. Yet I want to fit both mediation and exercise in my regular schedule and will deal with that after my practice seems more regular. I don't want to place the two in competition.
The most important thing is for me to -- just show up. What I call -- Tusch to the Cush.
This same advice is often given to artists and writers. So I try not to be concerned about the results and just go to the meditation cushion consistently as I do to my desk to write on a regular basis.
Self-criticism is my biggest obstacle
I can still fret... I'm not doing this meditation thing right, I'm not doing this well.
But all I really want to do is sit quietly and comfortably and focus on breath or my mantra (repeated phrase).
Meditation teachers often describe our busy thoughts as Monkey Mind.
I think of my own mind-clutter like a Walmart shoppers crowd on Black Friday, a jostling mess of humanity.
And I turn to meditation to slow down a bit.
What I prefer is to think of meditation as me being in a small boat on a narrow calm river.
The current is slow and smooth and no effort is needed to move forward.
But there are many things along the shore lines that draw my attention. From colorful laundry, to barking dogs, to individuals and groups of people talking companionably, or arguing, or calling out to me. My job is to not get engaged with any of these things or interactions. Notice them and move on.
What that translates to is for me to simply acknowledge any thoughts, worries, images, plans, or aches and pains that I experience while sitting and then to gently return to my focus (my breath or mantra).
As the teacher Sharon Salzburg says, "If you have to begin again a million times in the course of one sitting that's the practice."
Well, I am practicing being quiet daily. It is both easier and more difficult than imagined.
Wondering what you think -- do you meditate? Why or why not?