I have been meditating now for over a decade. My practice is mixed – some days 30 minutes, some days a couple of hours; sunrise, on the occasions I see it, is a favourite time to meditate for a longer period. Indulgently I love meditative days, often at weekends, when interruptions are likely to be less frequent. Silence, limited access to technology and just being -doing whatever tasks need to be done and sitting frequently. I try as much as possible to be meditative and mindful on a regular basis.
I’ve spoken in other posts about expectation when commencing meditation. I think mine was this notion that it alone would bring some respite, peace to the pace of my mind and of life generally. Of course it did. Sitting silently with awareness on the breath is a great refuge from all that goes on. However, in the early days of meditation I struggled to build a deeper connection between me as meditator and me in the rest of my life! Just as in the cartoon above I found things still came up, ruminating about the past, anxiety about the future, difficult feelings of anger, fear. All are natural arising of thoughts within the mind but I struggled to understand how meditation would offer something more than temporary respite, however welcome that may be
The turning point for me was the realisation many years ago, the real ‘work’ begins for ourselves outside of meditation and sitting. It brings an insight and awareness of ourselves that is as profound as it is sometimes ugly but is only one part of a process, a door to how we deal with all the difficult stuff that comes up in life. Observing anger, rumination etc head on, with tenderness allows us to see them for what they are, patterns of the mind developed over time with a belief they would help us or without being conscious at all. We also see, however, the damage our way of thinking of does to ourself or others. Observation and the mental space that meditation creates enables us to take responsibility for how we see and react to the world and ultimately let go of ways of thinking that no longer serves us or others
It is a continuous journey, there will inevitably be times when we are pulled back and caught by circumstance but over time we can find that our practice becomes transformative. This year particularly my experience of that transformation has peaked. It has been a year of external transformation of job, of life, of habits. This period of change has meant periods of not knowing, of discomfort (not physical but just that which comes with the unknown) and I have observed, often like an electric storm, some of the old paths of thinking become charged again. Yet like a storm these moments have been fleeting and quickly dissipated – reacting angrily or worrying excessively becomes the exception rather than the norm and we realise the work we have done has borne fruit, the space of being able to experience life moment to moment, simply as it is.