i never hate meditating. my hatred is reserved for itunes.
nor do i ever regret meditating, but it can be extremely frustrating. i’m continuing vipassana and am clinging to a sentence from the course’s “guidelines for practice” booklet, which states,
“it is common to experience drowsiness, agitation, mind-wandering…in meditation, but if you persevere you will be successful.”
(emphasis added) that line is so comforting. i’ve experienced all three issues, but the wandering mind really gets me down. often, it feels like theoretically i meditated but i actually just gently guided my mind back to my breath 8,427 times in 60 minutes.
and the kicker is many would say that’s what meditation is, recognizing when your mind moved out of the present and compassionately wrangling it back.
strangely, the image of building the great pyramids helps me keep the daily practice in perspective. but instead of long rectangular stones, these pyramids are made of much smaller cubes, like children’s building blocks.
each session means another cube for the structure. somewhere along the line i decided the pyramid never gets any larger, it’s just always there.
it’s as though i’m telling myself it’s not the physical addition of the blocks that matters, but the fact that i went through the process and earned a block that’s important.
the value is in the act itself, even if i felt it was one gigantic disruptive useless experience. one day i’ll know the pyramid is complete. then i’ll just move onto a new image and build that in my mind, block by block.
when you start talking to other meditators you hear a lot of talk about clouds. a lot.
“watch your thoughts like clouds passing through the sky,” “imagine you’re floating on a cloud,” “the mind we discover through meditation is like the sky. all kinds of clouds can cover up the sky, but the sky itself is never harmed by them,” which i love and found on whatmeditationreallyis.com.
it gets to the point when you wonder if they’re all just closet nepholologists (those who study clouds. yes, i had to look it up.).
but they probably aren’t. they’re just trying to find a metaphor for how to deal with encroaching thoughts without losing their minds.
clouds shmouds, i say. i need something stronger. because my thoughts don’t just float on over like gentle water droplets. they barge in and through, obliterating anything in their path.
and to me at least, watching clouds sounds like a great use of an afternoon. again, i need something grittier and less relaxing.
which is why i was practically giddy when i discovered the following quote about mindfulness in “18 spiritual teachings that blew my mind wide open” by writer Michelle Margaret Fajkus on elephantjournal.com. it is originally by Matthieu Ricard, French biochemist turned Buddhist monk.
“I imagine sitting at a train station, watching the trains arrive and depart. My pure awareness is the station and my thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. are the trains. If I am not mindful, I will hop on a train and take it to who knows where. But the moment I realize I am on the train, I am magically off of it, back at the station, just watching without judgment, with compassion.”