Advice Please- Meditation Hesitation

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Yesterday I meditated.

At least I think I did.

I went out on the deck while Emily was napping and Jack was with his grandparents.  It was nice and quiet. The hot mid-day sun instantly relaxed every muscle in my body. I sat on our glider, looking at the clouds, the trees, the butterfly exploring our messy garden area.

My mind went all soft and I closed my eyes, tucked my feet up under me, let my hands rest on my lap. I focused on my breath, which was slow and natural. Although my mind wasn’t totally quiet, it was very peaceful.

Hey, look at me! I thought. I’m like meditating! And it doesn’t totally suck!

Among other reasons, I began this blog as an attempt to become more mindful as a mom, wife, social worker, and general human on the planet. Since becoming a mom, I noticed how painfully fast life moves and passes, and I wanted to really tune in and soak it up.

I am getting pretty good at being in the moment, generating a full spectrum of awareness about what is going on and about how I feel.

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Be here now.

I’ve met a bunch of other amazing humans through this experiment of blogging, some of whom are Buddhist. They devote time each day to the practice of meditation- sitting still in quiet, turning down the volume of their internal dialogue to become more relaxed, present, compassionate, and eventually, enlightened.

Or at least that is my understanding of it.

Meditation has never come easily for me, probably because I have a busy and anxious mind. It also seems so rigid to me- sit this way, hold your hands that way, breathe this way, use this pillow, wear this shirt, yadda yadda yadda- and that rigidity is a total turn off to me.

I also resent the fact that I feel like I SHOULD be meditating.

I do practice what Pema Chodron calls Pause Practice, where at random moments in the day you “drop the storyline” of whatever you are doing to take three mindful breaths. And I do practice tuning in to my body, breath, and energy when I am doing everyday things like taking a walk, changing a diaper, or doing the dishes. I also have several chants that I use to help ground myself.

I strive to live a mindful and centered life, but I feel like there is something wrong with me because I don’t formally “sit” on a daily basis.

There is no religion to which I ascribe (except possibly Mister Rogers), but I’ve always resonated with the theories and images associated with Buddhism. However, I so easily become overwhelmed with all the different instructions for how to BE Buddhist. At its core, I guess I don’t really understand what it is, or what meditation is for that matter.

Yesterday when I sat, I felt nice. I sat there for ten minutes and for once did not want to leap up to get on to the next damn thing. My soft mind was punctuated at several moments by a neighbor’s voice and a lawnmower, and then again by a sudden urge to go infuse water with cucumber. But I did what Pema Chodron says and labeled those distractions as just “thinking,” and then returned to focus on my breath.

  • Was what I did meditation?
  • Is meditation still meaningful if it isn’t a daily routine?
  • Are there benefits to doing it once in a while?  
  • Instead of meditating for a half hour all at once, can I gather the random moments of mindfulness throughout the day and consolidate them to make up a “session?”
  • Am I a crappy person because I don’t normally enjoy sitting?  

All these questions are on fire in my head space today- totally contrary to my blissful little moment of whatever on my porch yesterday.  Doesn’t it kind of defeat the purpose of meditation if I am going to spend all this time and energy pondering and analyzing it?

If any of you out there in the blogosphere have any answers to these questions, or advice for me, it would be greatly and graciously appreciated!  And now, to go drink some of that cucumber water that I made AFTER meditating!

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7 responses »

  1. •Is meditation still meaningful if it isn’t a daily routine?
    Is brushing your teeth still good even if you don’t do it twice daily?

    •Am I a crappy person because I don’t normally enjoy sitting?
    No. Who enjoys sitting? I think people do it. I think they might feel good afterward. But, like exercise, I don’t know anyone who gets all yippeee skippy about sitting.

  2. Love this post! And I think you’re asking all the good questions. But I have no answers for you. I do think sitting occasionally can be a wonderful thing, and valuable. Yes. Probably doing it consistently is a different thing; it becomes about ritual, practice, a life change. My sense of American Buddhism is that it’s largely about people meeting the practice where they’re at. I don’t know what Pema would say about that, though. I asked my husband that very question: is what I’m doing actually a practice? Even though it’s kind of random? I think his response was, “Do YOU think it’s a practice?”

    Oh, one more: I think after a while you start to crave sitting, the way you crave exercise or healthy food. I do. Sometimes I dread it, sometimes I excuse myself from it, and sometimes I crave it.

  3. I try to sit almost daily but for 20 minutes now, though it used to be10 and sometimes it can be 30, but that’s a big space when you’ve young kids. I’ve been doing it for a good many years and I have found it keeps me better focused and more mindful in daily life. I’m not a Buddhist, I’m an eclectic mystic, which means I don’t follow any one path and feel strongly about the meaningfulness of life and all it holds, including the invisible. Practice makes perfect and I wouldn’t worry about the details if I were you. Warm Wishes, Tasha

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