The importance of my meditation practice
I have a confession to make. I haven’t been mediating consistently the past few weeks. There I said it. Even The Meditating Teacher can’t get it together to meditate on a consistent basis. The start of 2018 has just come at me like a firehose and just this weekend has it started to slow down allowing me time to catch up and even relax on the couch with the family.
Since the holidays, it’s just been one thing after another that I’ve had to tackle. I’m sure all of you know what this looks and feels like. My day planner is filled with reminders, meetings, social obligations, work obligations, family obligations, papers that haven’t been graded yet, blog post ideas, and so much more. Honestly, I’m getting a little anxious just thinking about all the work I’ve done and that still needs to be completed. I wake up with mysterious physical aches and pains even though I haven’t been working out consistently. My mind jump starts and I immediately am checking work emails before I even walk downstairs to grab coffee. My routines have been challenged with snow days and delays and inconsistent schedules.
For me someone who thrives in predictable and consist environments the past month and a half have been an uphill marathon with no water or snack breaks. But, you see here’s a lesson I’m learning through this incredibly busy period in my life- I need to meditate, even on busy days, because if not I’m out of balance. I don't feel good physically, begin to feel apathetic to activities I enjoy in life, and lose my cool much easier. This is no way to live even for a month. The reality is that a month turns into three, which turns into nine and all of a sudden an entire year rushed past me again without being consciously aware of what’s going on. I have already experienced years like that, where life happened to me rather than me consciously being present and aware of every waking moment.
After I meditated today I realized that having a consistent meditation practice is important for me because it grounds me. I know that no matter how busy I get I can always take a moment to formally sit or stand for meditation. Even though from the outside it looks like I’m doing nothing as I sit and meditate I am reconnecting with my senses in the present moment. I am taking a moment from the hectic schedule to reconnect with the body, mind, and heart-center. As Jack Kornfield, explains that “Mindfulness is an invitation to dignity, to graciousness, to wellbeing, to the possibility of presence just where you are.” And it’s all about “just where you are” today. Not yesterday, not five years ago, or tomorrow or next year. It’s about the present moment.
The beauty about having a formal meditation practice is that I am able to easily, quickly, and with little attachment to the emotions that rise and fall recognize the patterns of busyness, the signs of anxiety, the rising waves of feeling overwhelmed. This ability to recognize unhealthy patterns and detach oneself from these patterns is not a superpower or other worldly, but rather everyone has the capacity to recognize patterns in their own lives. It just takes mindfulness and meditation practices in order to see these patterns with compassion towards yourself and others. So, even during crazy, busy, times in our lives it’s important to take a few minutes to formally sit and meditate. The meditation may not be perfect, it may be short, but it at least reminds you to breath.
I hope my experiences and lessons about my own meditation practice inform you and your practice.