I am new to meditating, but have read a decent amount of literature and have had the good fortune to meet a lot of teachers who have spoke very eloquently and convincingly about its benefits—so when the Meditation Challenge started I was very excited to commit to integrating it into my daily routine.
But how easy I found it to avoid or reason away just sitting down and doing it! Given, I have just moved into a new apartment which definitely is a consuming and demanding activity, but still, what is just 20-30 minutes?
Feeling frustrated with myself for my weak attempts the past four days, I woke up early this morning to really get down to it. I found myself procrastinating by trying to make sure all the conditions for a “proper sit” were set: was I wearing proper clothing? was my bedroom quiet enough?? did I need tea beforehand to avoid sleepiness??? should I stretch???? Suddenly recalling Sharon’s words from her Tricycle Retreat about “beginning again,” I was able to just stop and stroll over to the cushion and take a seat.
Settling and attempting to gather my attention fully to the rhythms of my breathing, I became aware how active my mind was, and how quickly my attention would flit from one thought to the next, sometimes totally unrelated, before remembering that the task was to notice the thoughts and then let them go.
Settling a bit deeper, I found by following the sensation of the energy with every in and out breath, I began to notice parts of my body that felt a certain tightness—a kind of clog. These awarenesses would capture my attention, and I would leave my breath and begin to feel pain. Doing my best to catch myself and return to my breath, I noticed that when I was able to focus my attention very wholly on my breath, I would not feel the pain. It occurred to me that what was actually happening was that I was conditioning my perception away from the pains. I was actually able to, for some periods of time, eliminate my perception of the pains by focusing somewhere else. Even when I would feel the pains again, they took on a different quality—it seemed they were only “real” when they entered into my perception field.
I felt very motivated by today’s session, feeling like I had actually touched on the power of concentration—I had a new awareness of how scattered my attention can really be, yet I had also experienced an interesting sensation of perceptual control. I am excited to keep going and continue to hone my newborn practice.
—Andrew Gladstone, Digital Media Coordinator
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