After many months away, tonight I returned to my meditation cushion. I have too often looked at it tucked away in my closet and thought to myself, “you haven’t meditated in a while, you should do that.” My response varied but it turned out the same, “I’m too tired!” “Maybe tomorrow.” “I have so much to do, I just can’t right now!” No matter my excuse the outcome has been the same; no meditation. And I have suffered for it. I don’t feel as “free and easy” if I don’t meditate.
Tonight was different. I have been reading a few self-help books of late. I know many of my readers may, perhaps, roll their eyes at the idea, but I find many self-help books…well, helpful. I have a stack I’m moving slowly and thoughtfully through. I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted those books to be an instant cure. They are not, they are only helpful if you’re willing to work at the steps they offer. Tonight, as I sat eating dinner alone (I think my current feelings of loneliness prompted much of my self-help need) I was reading Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. In it Esther describes the importance and ease of meditation. I loved what was said. “Sit in a quiet room. Wear comfortable clothing, and focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders, and it will, release the thought and focus upon your breathing.” This is perfect advice for meditating. So, after thinking about it while I ate and later explored Barnes and Noble, I decided to do more than give my meditation cushion a passing glance.
So, I came home, lit the candles and incense on my altar, dialed up some Enya on my iPhone and sat my excited rear end on my meditation cushion. At first it was perfect, like greeting an old friend you’d been missing. But soon, the relationship began to turn. My mind wandered, often. “My back hurts. My feet hurt. How long have I been sitting here?” All of this ran through my head as I sat trying to meditate. I couldn’t believe how badly I was doing. I used to do this all the time. “Patience, you’ve been away a while. It will come back.” My consciousness was coming through as the voice of reason. “As your mind wanders, and it will, release the thought and focus upon your breathing.”
That’s just what I did. I stopped beating myself up. I closed my eyes and breathed. Before I knew it I was smiling as I meditated. I felt peace returning to my entire countenance. Then, abruptly, my time was up. Should I keep going? Is 15 minutes enough? “Yes, it is enough,” my consciousness was telling me. “Return tomorrow,” it added, “and give it 15 more minutes.” “Do not push yourself or you risk growing to resent your meditation time and that is counter productive.” Sometimes I’m pretty brilliant if I do say so myself. But, seriously, as with any new or revisited endeavor, don’t push yourself. Be patient. Allow your self to grow and mature into the practice. It was my ego that was whining about being a poor meditator. My ego wondered why it wasn’t the same as it was before. I have to release the ego, as I released my wandering thoughts, and stay with the person I am and the meditator I am in this very moment. If I’m too hard on myself, I won’t go back to the cushion. And I so desperately want to be on that cushion again.