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Archive for September, 2011

Duration of today’s sit: 20 minutes

Today was the closest I came to not sitting since I started these 100 days. I finally made it to the cushion at 3:50 PM (and I need to leave the house at 4:30 for the evening).

My recipe for “not sitting” definitely includes:

  • staying up late the night before
  • turning on the laptop before I even get out of bed
  • making deals with myself (“I’ll sit after breakfast; I’ll sit after my last client; etc.”)

Some things I noticed:

At one point I could hear a dog barking and human voices talking outside my window. I had a glimpse of awareness that they were no different. The meaning I was giving to the talking was my creation.

At another point I realized I had a song stuck in my head. Believe it or not, this is the very first time I’ve noticed that in all of my experience with meditation. I used it to represent unconscious thought, and so I focused on my breath intensely to see what would happen to the singing. It stopped. Pretty cool!

Towards the end, I found myself wanting to leave the cushion, waiting for the chime. I checked the timer a few times to see how much time was left. It was like a visceral pull to get up and do. And yet I was aware the whole time. Awareness feels so schizophrenic sometimes. There were two very clear intentions in my mind: one was to remain sitting; the other was to get up and do something else. But the former was in control of my body. The latter was frustrated, trying to make my body move. I could feel it’s frustration. I could feel a subtle energy trying to work my body, trying to get up.

The whole time the other part of my mind watched. I even started to smile at the whole struggle that was happening. Very odd.

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Duration of today’s sit: 30 minutes

This was my most unconventional sit yet. First, I postponed it until about 1 PM.

Second, I got up from my sit 2 or 3 times to deal with various situations that needed my attention (closing the window to keep the rain from coming in, for example).

Third, even though I sat down with a whole bunch of resistance, I found it relatively easy to create periods of high concentration.

I also explored some emptiness meditations and found myself reconnecting with the experience of those meditations during my April retreat. I’m feeling like it’s time to bring in the emptiness meditations. I’ll review my notes over the next couple of days and see how I want to do that.

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Duration of today’s sit: 30 minutes

I increased my meditation time from 25 minutes to 30 minutes today. Didn’t notice a difference. I want to sit for a full hour one day soon.

I also learned that if my iPod is not connected to the wi-fi, I don’t get “credit” for my sit on the Insight Timer app. There’s some ego pride in there, and there’s also the simple matter of tracking my progress. So I’m running the timer for another 30 minutes as I write this.

The quality of my concentration was mixed. The mind was racing, grabbed by a combination of creative excitement and worry about uncertainty. I was able to concentrate pretty well when I brought things back to basics, the simple 3-part object with a silent mantra of “in, out, body.”

And for the most part I was able to feel compassionate and gentle about the experience, reminding myself to “face what’s here.”

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Duration of today’s sit: 25 minutes

Today I found myself getting frustrated with my “lack of progress.” I felt like I was still struggling with the same challenges of concentration. My mind seems to wander just as much as it ever has, and I can’t seem to focus on my breath for more than a few seconds at a time.

I even caught myself feeling foolish, as if I needed to be in the remedial class.

But my awareness of this mental chastisement soon transformed into compassion: Of course I have a lot on my mind. That’s the world I’ve been living in for 40 years, a world that emphasizes worrying and values thinking and talking. To build habits of trust, feeling, and stillness will not be easy.

Changing the patterns of who we’ve known ourselves to be takes time. Like turning around an ocean liner.

And this is what it looks like.

It couldn’t look any other way or else it would. Showing up each day on the cushion and facing what’s there—that’s the very best I can do. And if I do that every day, a shift will happen. A shift has happened. We are never just being, we are always becoming.

This is what it looks like.

My niece asked me recently why she feels that she’s the same person now in second grade that she was in first grade and even in kindergarten, yet when she looks at photos of herself from those past years, she looks so different.

If only I could take a photo of meditation…

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Duration of today’s sit: 25 minutes

Very agitated mind this morning with periods of concentration.

I noticed that my anxiety would rise and fall with the activity of my mind. The correlation was undeniable and visceral. It validated through experience something I’ve known conceptually: Thoughts are the source of anxiety, fear, and stress. When the mind is still, the person is peaceful.

I delayed my sit this morning by a little more than an hour. I did not have a reason other than mental resistance: “I don’t wanna.”

My intention this week is 3 days in a row of sitting first thing in the morning.

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Duration of today’s sit: 25 minutes

My mind was extremely agitated this morning. I was excited about replying to a friend with my ideas for an event we’re building together. My mind was more interested in that creativity than in concentration.

I responded to this agitation in two ways: First, I interrupted my sit to record some thoughts that I was afraid I’d forget. The fear was the first obstacle I felt needed attention. Second, I grounded my attention in a whole-felt sense of the body. And then I observed the mental agitation as an energetic movement swirling in the great context of my grounded experience in my body.

Essentially, I gave my mind permission to swirl chaotically, and I watched it.

Interesting because when I first sat down today, I wanted to understand the difference between the event perspective and the mind perspective. I think I get it conceptually, but I have some trouble relating those concepts to my actual experience on the cushion. I’m thinking that what I did today was shift from the event perspective (being consumed by the agitation) to the mind perspective (seeing the agitation).

I will make a note of this to discuss with my meditation coach the next time we speak.

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Duration of today’s sit: 25 minutes

Today was another lesson in the knowledge that there is no such thing as a “sit.” Within these 25 minutes of sitting, I experienced extremes of concentrated, continuous staying and fully elaborated daydreams.

As I’ve stated before, this awareness feels very liberating. There’s little to no pressure on me to have a “good sit,” and little to no judgment that I might be having a “bad sit.” There’s simply the question, “How concentrated am I right now?”

I see this as being the seed for a more generalized wisdom that there’s no such thing as a good or bad day, or a good or bad life. It feels like the door to presence has opened just a little bit wider for me.

Like yesterday, the 7-point object was the key for my most concentrated periods today. I’m going to study my notes from the retreat and review the instructions that follow the 7-point object.

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