Very well, dear reader, thank you.
I’ve been focusing exclusively on mindfulness-of-the-body-breathing practice for the past few months. It’s the first practice I had instruction in and, since I began practicing regularly two years ago, it’s been my bedrock technique. Some people do metta regularly, but when I think of “meditation,” I think of my practice. I’ve heard it categorized as shamata.
Even though I’ve sat every week – sometimes 7 days in a row, sometimes one – for the last couple of years, it’s still difficult to sit for 20 minutes with my wily, wily mind. When I first started practicing in college, it was sporadic and thrilling and I had some really fantastic daydreams on the cushion. As with drugs, however, the initial euphoria quickly fades and I needed greater and greater doses of practice for my mind to settle down. Which is the opposite of drugs. Whatever.


This is positive, actually. I’ve reached some basic level of competency in meditation and now begins the truly difficult work of negotiating my thoughts, moods, and bodily sensation. Discipline becomes important.
Ethan told a story last summer on retreat at Karme Choling about a teacher who recommended saying “thinking” every time you caught yourself lost in thought.
This, he explained, might easily be used by a judgmental mind to label all thinking as Wrong and for this reason he preferred to say, “thinking, good buddy!” I use this collegial mantra every day.
Lately, I’ve been trying to sit in the morning because it’s what all the cool kids do. I usually half fall, half roll out of bed and put the tea kettle over a low ring of gas. Then I sit. When the kettle whistles it’s time to stop (because, like a crying baby, a whistling tea kettle is a sound humans can’t stand for long) and whether I’m watching the breath carefully or lost in a recollected dream, my mind always reacts the same: I’m not done! I want more!
It’s a great reminder that, however agitated or calm, this is my mind today. Work with it.
What is your practice like? Wonderful or craptastic? What do you struggle with on a regular basis?
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