Building a Committed Practice - A Reflection
I am in week 6 of my first semester of a master's degree program in Mindfulness Studies. As part of the Theory class, the professor assigned reflection and analysis of our practice, as it stands now. This is my reflection.
I started setting time aside for a committed practice prior to the term starting. I knew it would be required, so I figured that I should just get a start on it as soon as possible. So, after our move, getting settled, and recovering from graduation, I got serious about meditation. I picked up my yoga practice again in earnest, since it had fell by the wayside in my sprint towards graduation. But, it wasn’t until we started class that it really sunk in that I was building something consistent and enduring, as opposed to a hit-and-miss hobby or comfort measure in times of crisis.
As I reflect on these past 6 weeks of meditative practice, I realize I have become comfortably addicted to what has become a morning ritual. Upon awakening, instead of lying in bed letting my mind wander toward panic, I embrace the dark quiet of my meditation area, light a candle, get settled, and breathe. Sometimes guided, sometimes not – it doesn’t really matter. What I am after is the stillness that comes over my body first, then my mind. The deeper the stillness, the more aware I become. Focused awareness, for me, is beautiful. I really am home in the present.
I have always been an aware person. Being highly sensitive and empathic, I have had to learn to tamp the receptors down – there is little benefit from sponging everyone’s emotions and motivations, especially while trying to figure out which are my own. Undisciplined awareness is like many radio stations all playing at the same time – absolute chaos. This is something I am still, and always will be, dealing with and working on. I have realized that meditation was the life ring I had been needing all this time. Yoga is wonderful, especially if it is practiced as a meditation, however sitting in stillness gives me a glimpse of the balance and equanimity that I struggle to maintain throughout the day.
No, it is not always easy. I have fallen asleep during body scans (sloth, perhaps). I have struggled with keeping awareness on my breath (or on my toe!) that may be attributed to restlessness. I have dealt with feelings of failure and other unsolicited emotions that have arisen. But, I am determined to “aware them lightly,” as Lama Surya Das encourages, and not attach to them or judge myself. The compassion I desperately want to give to others I am finally giving to myself. And not just when I am on the cushion, but in all areas of my life.
This is a process I am happy and willing to continue. I have no expectations of greatness, accomplishment, or accolades. I will just continue to sit and be grateful for the great pleasure and privilege it is to explore the inner secret garden of which I now have the key.
Over earth wind blows,
within the body breath flows;