Almost everyone I know who meditates, quits. They get excited to start, but then they quickly become disappointed that enlightenment doesn’t look the way they expected. No, meditation doesn’t raise us to a state of Always Peaceful or Always Patient With Loved Ones. It doesn’t remove Self-Loathing or Resentment Toward Lots of People.
What it does offer us is a better shot at awareness, with kindness and, if we are very fortunate, with humor.
So, I have begun a #MeditationChallenge on jizoandchibi.com’s Facebook page. Here are some people trying to meditate, one day at a time for five minutes a day. Just sit. Breathe. Day one, we started with the most simple of practices, from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early instructions to us 25 years ago: a simple mantra of “In, I am breathing in…. breathing out, I smile.”
Smile a little half-smile on the out-breath and notice your mind. Notice the sounds around you. Notice the noise within you. Notice how you fidget, have an irrepressible itch on your nose. Notice how if you don’t scratch it, it gets worse but if you smile on the exhalation, it may dissolve, right under — or on — your very nose!
Consistency is hard. Join us! If you miss a day, just start again. Invite your friends to join us #MeditationChallenge.
When Maharishi first brought Transcendental Meditation to the West, he would tell a story, a metaphor: We are like cloth being dyed. We go into a vat and absorb as much dye as possible and then we are hung out in the sunshine to dry and be bleached. Then, we go back into the vat, absorb all the dye we can and then… back out into the sun. Into the dye. Into the sun. Over and over. Then, when we have absorbed as much dye as we possibly can, the sun cannot bleach us so much.
Meditation is like that. We don’t react as much as we used to; we don’t have as much resentment as we used to; we don’t get bleached out by life so quickly.
The more consistently we practice, the better we become at being aware. The less consistent, the more grumpy we are. Whether you start this today, next week, next month… whenever you begin… best wishes for kinder thoughts.