I need to come up with a new way of saying that my Monday meeting was fantastic, because I fear I’m getting repetitive. It was fantastic, 12 people, it seems these days that even when a regular attendee does not show up, I will have a newcomer to take his or her place. Here’s what was cool about today’s meeting. It is the third Monday of the month, which means a reading from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Because it is November, we read the chapter dedicated to Step Eleven: sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Of course I know this is what we are going to be reading, and so I have been considering how I am faring with this step in my everyday life, and I find that I am comfortable with the prayer portion of the step, but still feeling very weak in the meditation part. I have written about my struggles with meditation several times in the past, and I don’t feel as if I have progressed very far in this department.
Back to the meeting. I am contemplating what I will be sharing, and I am focusing on what I can say about my struggles with meditation, and a car pulls into the parking lot that I do not recognize. Out of the car steps a gentleman I have not seen in at least 6 months, maybe more, named Brian. And, of course, it is always so wonderful to reconnect with someone you have not seen in a while, but here’s what is amazing: the last I saw Brian he was attempting to start a meeting in the same club house I run my meeting. And that meeting was to be a moving meditation meeting. He wound up shutting down the meeting due to a lack of participation, but how fortuitous is it that as I am gearing up to talk about my lack of progress in meditation, he drives into the parking lot!
So of course I needed to share this serendipity with him and the other early birds to the meeting, and we had a fascinating discussion about the benefits and practical application of meditation in everyday life. It turns out that two other early birds are well-read on the subject, and I was able to learn so much from them in the 20 minutes before the meeting even started!
Now, when a meeting is that interesting and it hasn’t even started yet, you know it’s only going to get better, and it did not disappoint. The other attendees had just as great things to share, both on meditation, and step eleven in general. Here are some of my take-aways:
- Meditation is a process, and therefore takes time, patience, and practice; the results are cumulative. The goal is not for a white-light moment; rather, it is a slow and steady shift in perception that, over time, leads to a substantive increase in peace and serenity
- It is beneficial to establish a routine: create a spot in your home that brings you peace, and intend for that spot to be a place where you will meditate daily
- Meditation is about the absence of judgment. So whatever comes into your mind, let it come in and go out, negatively judging it will only lead to resistance in meditation
- Keep it simple. Forget about all the fancy clothes, incense, music, and whatever else is associated with meditation. Be still, be quiet, focus on breathing in and out. Keep that up, and you will find yourself meditating as surely as those in the cloistered monasteries all over the world!
… At least that was what I was told. I committed to the group that I would designate a spot (which I have), and I will attempt to sit quietly in that spot for a few minutes each day, and see what happens. I am still toying with the time of day to do this, but for now I will try different times to see what yields the best results. I am hopeful that this new information will help me to make some serious progress, and I will check in at some point and let you know how it goes!
An absolutely gorgeous day on the East Coast, warm weather that is unheard of in mid-November. I will appreciate it while I can!
Your mind is your instrument. Learn to be its master and not its slave.
So, since I am attempting to be all about practicing what I preach, I decided to formally give meditation a try. That attempt, for the record, will be filed away under the category entitled Epic Fail. I guess I never really thought about just how difficult it would be to simply quiet the mind. If I think my mind runs a mile a minute under normal circumstances, then it goes into overdrive when I consciously attempt to slow it down. When I finally gave up, I decided that this is step 11 for a reason, and that I will get there when I get there.
But then I had a few conversations about the subject of meditation, and I realized I am not alone in this difficulty. When I did a little research into the subject, I discovered that “monkey mind” is one of the biggest obstacles to successful meditation. So how to overcome this obstacle? Simple practice. Keep trying and (apparently) it will get easier. I wish I could say I know this for a fact to be true… I don’t, but I hope to be able to post differently in the near future. I suppose it is similar to exercise, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
My Dad had a great expression for moments like this one, and I guess I need to apply it here: I’m not going to learn any younger!