Monastic Mom

The Path to Meditation — slipping off to sideroads

Ahhh. Summer is here. I am, like the kids, looking forward to some time off. And hopefully, I can get back to meditating with some regularity. School time has been such a busy time with working half time, homeschooling my dyslexic son who needs one-on-one lessons, driving over 30 miles round trip to take my daughter to a private school then repeat in the afternoon to pick her up. Little time left for such things as exercising, meditating, or just strolling along the nearby ocean beach..

Of course, the best way to meditate regularly is with others such as with a sangha if you can. Or if you have someone special in your life, you can help support each other's meditation practice. Meditating with a loved one can also enrich a relationship. I once had a short relationship in which we meditated together. It was for me mediation at it's best. Even years later, I sometimes still feel the loss of that special connection during meditation — perhaps the reason I have become "sitting challenged".

Years ago, when I first started meditating, my mind was always abuzz. Counting my breaths and returning to one every time I caught my thoughts slipping away, my thoughts often went like this:

1, 2... How am I going to solve that problem at work? If I do this, .... opps, 1, 2, But then if I do that... 1, 2, 3... or else I can do this other thing... 1, but then...
and so on and so forth.

After some practice I could sometimes get all the way to ten before my mind would stray to other thoughts. And eventually I got to where the counting was a distraction in itself. I found that "counting" one breath was all that mattered 1,1,1... At those times I would feel a profound peace and an interconnection. My problems would all fade away and I just was.

I have taken time off from sitting mediation, but in the past year or so I've tried to get back into sitting meditation. I am back to where I was when I first began to meditate. Gone is the sense peaceful interconnection, all I feel now is a sense of total boredom while sitting. I need a new method of meditation and travel down some sideroads. I have begun to meditate while walking for exercise. Counting my breaths and clearing my mind as I go. I know there are some who would say that this is not meditation — I once attended a group sitting with a leader who felt the only proper way to meditation is to sit in lotus-style. But I am a maverick and often don't buy traditional wisdom. Besides my knocked knees won't do lotus no matter how hard I try.

So I walk, count my breaths and quiet my mind — re-centering and finding calmness within. And isn't this what meditation is all about? But what about enlightenment you ask?   I've always felt that enlightenment is not what meditation practice is all about, that the harder you strive for enlightenment the more elusive it becomes. I think enlightenment is something you find when you've given up trying and least expect it.

Are you sitting challenged? Here's some meditation suggestions for alternatives to "sitting". Some of these have been gleaned from the Buddhist Parent's discussion group.

Monastic Mom

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