This is my third year participating in the 28-day commit to sit, and each year I’m reminded that the conditions for integrating a daily practice into my life are never “perfect.” There’s always some challenge, some distraction, that gets in the way of what I had hoped would be four weeks chock-full of blissful moments of peace and tranquility.

This year, I spent the first few days of the 28-day challenge hosting a large group of friends at a rental house in upstate New York. Finding time (not to mention space!) to meditate wasn’t easy at first—my attention was pulled in a million directions as I tried to coordinate travel plans, shopping, cooking, and sleeping arrangements—but by the third day, I had developed a morning sitting routine that I truly looked forward to. My 20-minute sit allowed me to take some space from the chaos surrounding me to focus on my breath, and I found that I was far calmer and more centered after my sits.  

This morning, before packing up the rental house and heading home, I decided to follow the “Hearing Meditation” that Sharon offers in the first chapter of Real Happiness. I sat early in the day, and listened to the rumblings of a full house coming to life—beds creaking, soft footsteps, water running, and the coffee maker sputtering—but instead of naming the sounds or creating a story around them, I was able to let them wash over me, as Sharon suggested: “without interference, without judgment—just arising and subsiding, arising and subsiding.” The noises that might have otherwise interrupted my meditation became part of it, and I realized that though those “perfect” sitting conditions I’ve hoped for will never appear, the imperfections can be integrated into my meditations as I learn to deepen my concentration and center myself on the cushion.

—Rachel Hiles, Managing Editor

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