I was talking to my friend and fellow partcipant Riva today about the challenges coming up in week two for myself, and others it seems from reading the blog. Now that the initial excitement has worn off somewhat, it is getting harder for me to stay with this commitment to meditate daily. Also after a week of daily practice, I find things start bubbling up to the surface, and many are not at all pleasant.
The truth is prior to this challenge I did not have a daily meditation practice. Believe it or not, it is not a job requirement. I should mention that I have another daily practice, which I have done for many years now, and so meditation for me kind of an extra bonus practice. And of course I have two young children, and a job, so finding time, as you all can relate to isn’t easy. I have (due to my fabulous job) had the opportunity to meditate quite often with Sharon on retreat and at her teachings in NYC. In talking about this challenge with so many of the regulars I see at Sharon’s teachings in NYC, I was quite surprised to find out how many of the people who attend Sharon’s teachings do not in fact have a daily meditation practice. And as Sharon has said so often about meditation “It’s the everydayness that counts”.
As February was approaching I realized I wanted to make the commitment with all of you to meditate daily for 28 days and see what happened for myself as well. Initially I didn’t envision myself as a participant, only as an administrator, which now seems rather funny. Since I do my other practice first thing in the morning, I decided to try meditating at night. I have always been a bit resistant to practicing at night. Like many of you who are meditating in the morning I have found that unless I do things like this first thing in the AM, they often do not happen at all. Also at night I am usually tired and the last thing I want to do is some kind of practice. That said I decided to try meditating at night in the spirit of experimentation, which Sharon encourages so often when she speaks about the practice.
The first week I discovered I really loved meditating at night. I chose to sit when my older daughter goes to bed, and found it quite peaceful, and to be a wonderful refuge from the busyness of the day. And I found I was far less sleepy than I imagined I would be (I admit to many sleepy meditations at Tibet House). At the beginning of week two I was really looking forward to walking meditation since it has often been my favorite practice while on retreat. I am in fact finding it harder this week – walking and sitting. My resistance to nighttime practice is coming back, as is my sleepiness when I do sit down. Plus circumambulating the coffee table in the living room just isn’t the same as walking meditation in the woods at IMS or even inside the retreat center with so many others. And yes the judgments are coming, “I should be better at this”, “I’m Sharon’s assistant, I really have no excuse to make excuses!”, “Why did I yell at my daughter this morning? What kind of meditator am I? What kind of mother am I?”, you know the drill. But then I do my best to let go, to come back to my breath, back into my body, and to be with what is, even if it isn’t what I expect or want.
Inspired by all of you, some of whom are meditating in parking lots, and in fire trucks, or in bed doing 1 minute meditations because you are sick, or trying to be with the pain of an injury, I too am trying to bring meditation into more moments throughout my day, especially when I can’t do a formal practice at night. I am meditating on the subway (on the platform and on the train), walking here and there, with my kids, just remembering to check in with my breath, my body, this moment. I am reminded again by your dedication to the practice even in the midst of difficult circumstances, “It is the everydayness that counts”.
This week I dedicate my practice to all of you. May you all be happy and peaceful.