Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Happy For No Reason
At first, I did it lying down in bed with earbuds in for 10 to 20 minutes. No one would have known I was even doing it. Not even my husband, Kelly, who was often lying next to me. It was an easy, noncommittal way to start. I was a little shy about doing it back then.
Then I got the Headspace app and started doing it sitting up, often during my lunch hour. That app has ten free ten-minute meditations. I liked it so I bought the app and used it quite often until I got tired of the guided meditations and wanted something different.
Now I use the Insight Timer app. My practice is to meditate almost every morning for 30-45 minutes. I sit on a cushion in a space in our guest room that I created specifically for this. I have a small altar with a Buddha on it. I put the timer on and focus on my in-breath and out-breath. Of course, most of the time I am thinking about other stuff. I am planning my day or worrying about something from yesterday. But then I catch myself and come back to my breath.
A friend the other day asked me if meditating was hard. Not really, I said. If you have a goal to be a "perfect" meditator and never lose your focus then yes it would be hard. But if you are compassionate with yourself and forgive yourself each time you think about what you are having for dinner or what you are going to wear to work that day then no it's not hard. And to me, that is one of the major points of meditation in the first place. Awareness and love. Notice what is happening and then be okay with it.
Try not to get caught up in it. In the story. Go back to your breath. Forgive yourself when you can't.
My meditation practice slowly evolved. I didn't start out thinking I would do this every day for the next year and a half. But a year and a half later and now I am reading Buddhist books, attending a Sangha (a weekly group that meditates together and discusses a Buddhist talk) and planning on attending a meditation retreat for a few days in December at an Insight Meditation Center in Northern California.
I find it so interesting the way things develop. A small first step can often lead to so much. And it happens without specifically planning it. For instance, I became a vegetarian when I was 22 years old. I went vegan a few times in the past but it never stuck. It was too hard. Then 2 1/2 years ago it stuck. And at first, I was just vegan at home. At restaurants or at friend's homes I ate vegetarian. But then that stopped working. Now it is just an occasional bite of Godiva chocolate.
One of the tenets of Karma Yoga is non-attachment to results. Or from Nike- just do it.
This, of course, goes along with being in the present moment. Which is what meditation is all about. And if you are in the present moment you can't really be worrying about what will happen down the road.
One last thing for now. The Insight Timer app has a feature wherein at the end of your meditation many small round photos of people that are meditating at the same time as you come up on your screen. Over the months of using it, I have become "friends" with some of these people. Being friends just makes them pop up first in your list of fellow meditators. I have about 10 friends. A few of them are; Andy from Everett, WA, Melissa from Berkeley,CA, and my favorite I Ketut Gede Budastra from Palembang, Indonesia. At the end of your meditation when the photo pops up you can tap on it and send a message that says "thanks for meditating with me."
It never ceases to amaze me that I have this small connection with this random man from Indonesia. But it makes me smile each time and I imagine it does the same to him also.
The heart has to be soft before any of us can be free.