Be Grateful for What Shows Up
Over years of trying to maintain some version of a meditation practice, I've learned that, just like everything else in my life, practice is not stable. It fluctuates, shifts, changes, drops away, comes on strong, or whatever. I used to get very frustrated with myself over this instability, calling it a "weakness" in my practice. But these days, I don't judge my practice so much. I try to welcome whatever is here, and be grateful about what shows up. When the practice seems to wander off, I catch myself sooner these days and call it back kindly, and accept yet another fresh start placidly. No more berating. No more judging. No more disappointment. No more expectations. This is what is here with me now, I say as I sit down on my cushion. Let me welcome it.
But I've also learned the warnings that my practice might not be as robust as it could be. The main signal is a sense of anxiety or general uneasiness that comes first into my body, and eventually takes up residence in my mind. What causes this I'm not at all sure about. It is a scratchy feeling of dis-ease that seems to be unattached to story or incident. Out of the blue there it is, that old sense of general discomfort—tinged with tension, laced with a bit of yearning, and sometimes doused in regret.
What up, girl?? I have no idea.
And last week, all of these uncomfortable feelings descended upon me, a message from the universe. It was not fun.
But the good news is that I have progressed enough to take this scratchy dis-ease as a directive to ramp up my meditation practice. And instead of "doing" something to fix the anxiety, I have confidence of the benefits of simply "being" with the anxiety. You may know the Zen saying, "Meditate every day for one hour. And if you're too busy to meditate for one hour, then meditate for two hours." The idea being that those who are too busy need the practice most. Got it.
So I re-dedicated. In addition to my regular morning sitting, I added an afternoon mantra practice. I'm using the 21-day Immersion in the Power of Sacred Sound that Deval Premal & Miten offered through Sounds True a few months ago. I highly recommend this program if you are new to mantra practice. Premal's voice is stunningly beautiful, and the short meditations they present are relaxing, invigorating, and moving.
Another option is to add a guided meditation to your day. Yesterday, Deepak Chopra and Oprah began yet another 21-day round of guided meditations, their focus this time around "Getting Unstuck." Perfect for those of us facing a challenge in our practice (or a challenge in life.
So how about you? Are you faltering in your own practice? It happens. Take it as a sweet reminder to get still; a suggestion to release the tension you're holding; a call to dive deeper into your potential; a nudge to let yourself be more open, more receptive, more at ease—a permission to embrace joy. Today, add an additional ten minutes to whatever time you've been giving to your practice. Do it for 21 days. And watch. . .
No more scratchy.