I began my meditation or “sitting” practice in my early twenties. So it’s safe to say I haven’t been at it quite that long. In my time however, spanning about three or four years, I’ve both sat intensely and faithfully each day, and I’ve also gone weeks or months without this practice.
I’m a bit embarassed to say I don’t remember and can’t find who said throughout our lives we’ll have many different relationships with our sitting practice (it was either Thich Nhat Hanh or Jakusho Kwong– both Zen masters), but it certainly rings true.
Just like that, it doesn’t matter how you start, only that you start.
Whether you’re a religious type or not, meditation can deliver a great mental and emotional benefit.
With our lives traveling faster than trucks on an interstate, we get precious little time to just be present. To just be here, in this moment.
“BAM!” so the Zen masters would say.
Quieting our jabbering mind, with its infinite musings, our pressing duties in the world around us and that hunger for something “more” can lead us to push off the notion of taking up anything that’ll slow us down.
In my search for who said what about sitting I came upon this:
“Everyone is breathing, but not everyone is aware that they’re breathing.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Zen practice, or any meditation for that matter begins with breathing. Good posture is also a big one too and sitting comfortably, trying to be relaxed, but let’s let that be a given.
Meditation generally begins with the eyes closed. It shuts down one of our five senses, slowing us down. We become more conscious of an itchy nose, the sound of the ticking clock, maybe even that our breath kind of stinks!
Sitting plainly tempts the mind to wander, as it often does even with our eyes open. So we give it a focus: our breath.
Inhale, count “one.” Focus your entire being on that breath. Only think about that breath.
Did your mind wander to the price of eggs?
That’s okay. Return again to “one.”
It’s a frustrating practice in the beginning but practice creates a quieter environment internally for a better meditation practice. It’s important to not be too hard on yourself when your mind wanders. It will. All of ours do.
When you finally do make it to the count of “1o,” start again. Yes, at one. See why there’s no rush to get to 10?
The object of meditation is to calm to mind and be “here” in the present that is this very moment.
With enough sitting, you will get to the present moment. It’s a bit like catch up. We’ve been too wrapped up in the future and the past to be here now.
But when you do get to “now,” you’ll know it, right after it happens.
After enough breath-counting meditation practice your mind becomes silent. When it does, you are here. Now. But you won’t realize it until you come back to your raging mind. When you realize you’ve been so in the moment, even for just a few seconds, it’s a very heady feeling. Sort of like a high.
And it breeds well-being. Try sitting today. Just five minutes.
Any old pros have meditation advice?