Whenever I talk to someone about meditation, they always say "I could never do that". The perception of meditation is that you sit in calm, quiet repose, with a blank mind.
What really goes on is very different.
I take my seat on the cushion. I shift and shift until I find a spot that seems comfortable. I straighten up, place my palms on my thighs and begin. I set my focus about 4-6 feet in front of me, but softly. I notice my foot is cramping, so I shift again. I start to be aware of my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Did I remember to take out stuff for dinner? Back to the breathing. In. Out. Why did that person say that? Should I have said what I said? why do I judge what I say? oh yeah. Back to the breath. In. Out. Rest. In. Out. Rest. I wish my posture was better. It's so hard to sit up straight. Back to the breath. 5 minutes pass. I am getting good at this. my mind is so much calmer now. Ooops. Back to the breath. 5 minutes. 8 minutes. Now my knees hurt. Maybe I should shift again? maybe my body is just trying to get attention? Back to breathing. And so on.
Sometimes it is peaceful, beautiful, calm. Sometimes my thoughts race through the whole session, and I feel thwarted, frustrated. Sometimes I feel raw, open,tender, near tears. I have been filled with fear. Sometimes, I am flooded with joy. I have had weeks where every shitty thing I have ever done to anyone in my whole life come flooding back as if they just happened. Things I didn't even remember. I have had to confront my flaws, my insecurities, my own impermanence. I have been bored. I have fallen asleep. I have wanted to be anywhere but on that cushion. I have wanted to on the cushion, and no where else.
That's what it's really like.
Saturday, February 08, 2014
I learn more dharma from my dog, than I do from just about anyone or anything else. My dog suffers, and has suffered, just about every day of his short life. He has a host of physical problems -- hip dysplasia, spinal stenosis, a hole in his heart. Now he has heart arrythmia, an enlarged heart, is blind in one eye and going blind in another. He is only 7.
Every morning, he wakes up gagging and retching. He gathers himself and every so slowly makes his way to his feet. Painfully, slowly, and with great care, he makes his way downstairs to go outside. And there, he stops, sniffs the air, slowly takes in the whole of the world. He is fully there, and fully appreciative. He embodies joy in each breath. If it rains, he raises his face to the sky and catches rain drops. If it snows, he tastes the snowflakes. A squirrel makes his whole body energized and he becomes motion.
When he is full to the brim with outside, he comes inside. He eats, doing nothing but enjoying, tasting his food. He drinks, doing nothing but drinking. He has a biscuit and he joyfully throws it in the air, and then chases every bit as it breaks. He sighs contentedly and curls up for a nap.
He is in pain through every minute of every day. This is not a perception, but a fact. His spinal cord is squeezed, and every motion causes pain. His breath is ragged, uneven, hard to watch. But he will rise in a bit, and pick up a toy -- hoping for a game. He will seek out a cuddle or just warm company. He will run to the cat's protection, from every imagined foe. He will attack the mail as it comes in the slot, because it is his job, and he will do it as well as he's able, for as long as he is able.
He has taught me attention, gratefulness, to be gentle with myself and my body. He has taught me that attitude is everything. That joy is in each breath, each day, each moment, accessible to all who will accept it. He is teaching me love without attachment. And now, slowly, he is teaching me to let go. His days are dwindling. He knows it, and I know it. He will tell me when he is ready to go, I think. And I will let him go when he asks.