Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beginning Again

I've been working at creating a firm foundation for meditation practice for roughly seven years now. Of course, this has been speckled time -- on again, off again. That isn't of much matter.

Over the last year I have discovered a secret. Perhaps is has taken me these seven years to realize what blocked my path. Meditation is not something to do. It's not a duty, or a doing, or an action. We call it a practice, but that's because it takes time and patience and consistent repetition. It's a practice in that it is a way of life, something on-going, ever unfolding.

Once I began to realize that it wasn't something I sat and "did," the practice really began to open up for me. As much as I had read and heard that buddhism directs us towards a letting go of the self, I also began to not distance myself so much from the self. We do have a self, perhaps two of them. One is made of personality, and dies when the body dies. Another is made of energy, is without masks, and is always present, though often covered over and unnoticed. This is what meditation is for -- seeing the gap between the two, and spending more time with the faceless self. In meditation, I cultivate a place for that self to expand and breath.

Sitting again regularly now, I am reminded at how much persistance we need in the beginning. I am able to find that space where my real self sits, but that space is unsteady still. I flicker in and out of it as my mindfulness waxes and wanes. It makes me think of a flame flickering, sometimes steady, full and bright, sometimes wavering and blowing about. I enjoy the challenge of holding it steady. When it flickers in and out, as soon as I realize the shift I simply begin again.

When you find yourself wandering, simply hit the restart button. I've found that it is something which I only need to do in a subtle, soft way. I can't overthink it, or overdo it. It's nothing that requires great effort at all. Maybe I simply need to relax my face more, or shift my butt slightly on the pillow. Sometimes I take in a bigger breath and breath it out nice and slow, or roll my shoulders back. These small movements can help bring you back and settle in more comfortably. Do it as often as you need to -- even if it's a hundred times in a twenty minute session. Slowly, the space you are creating becomes broader, more still, and even.

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