As I sat in the meditation hall this morning feeling the elusive juiciness of the repeating mantra, my senses became drawn to the sound of the door opening, people arriving. My mind wandered to the thought, "it must be almost 6 am when the prayers will start." The continuous influx of bodies to the space continued to pull my attention from meditation. Judgement started. That person just plopped their blanket down without any consideration for those of us in here already trying to meditate. And that person got set up and then went back outside the space to get another blanket, making more noise than is necessary. And on and on.
But I stopped and reflected on my choice to come into a collective space to practice. After all, I could meditate in my room and the whole point of this space was for us to practice together. The point of this space is the collection of our energy and here I was bringing resentment to the others for being their. I also recognized it is a choice to focus on the sounds around me with criticism or I could choose to focus on the fortune of being in a space with so many other folks seeking more peace in a chaotic world. I could be grateful for the supportive energy of their practice.
Why am I meditating? Because I want more peace and joy in my life and less suffering and I recognize the mind's primary focus is to keep me alive. Hence it often looks for the threats and things I should resist. It also likes pleasures and comforts, so it looks for those too. And when they are not present, it sees survival as a threat.
But from Malcolm Gladwell's book titled, "Outliers," we have learned to be a master or expert takes 10,000 hours. Actually... as a coach let me clarify. It's not just 10,000 hours. It is 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Deliberate practice as defined by Eriksson and Lehmann, is when we pay attention to how to improve our performance. I could sit and meditate, but if I let my mind just keep wandering, it is not deliberate practice. Deliberate practice involves attention to the movement of mind - what stimulates it, what strategies can bring it back, what is my attitude, what choice can I make to allow the mind to become more settled. Feeling threatened or negative is not going to help be find a settled mind. It will whip up the mind into a frenzy and I will probably blame anyone around me for that experience, rather than recognizing what changes I need to make.
"We're a nation hungry for more joy:
Because we are starving from a lack of gratitude."
~ Brene Brown
It doesn't matter where you go - the climbing gym, the fitness class, the pickleball court, to work or home. What are you paying attention to? The things you do not want, the things you resist or the things that are missing? Or do you pay attention to the fortune of being with like-minded folks? It is a choice. One will bring you more negativity. The other will bring you more joy.
It isn't easy. These moments of clarity are only available to me because I do sit and meditate and the times when my mind keeps spinning, I notice my body does too. I usually have too many projects on the go, too many meetings, and have packed it all into a tight schedule. But when I slow down. When I choose to stop and just be in the moment, clarity is available to me.
What causes me to move so quickly, to pack my schedule? I am chasing the peace, the joy. I am chasing a sense of feeling safe in a chaotic and jammed packed world. A world that continually throws advertisements at me. A world that keeps moving faster with more discontent, more desire and less sustainability. Remember - the beauty of the first few weeks, months of Covid when we all were forced to STOP. When we had to slow everything down. As a storm has swept past the shores of Nova Scotia this weekend, Nova Scotians with the power out and all external entertainment cancelled, they are forced to slow down. Many don't embrace it - the rally against it. Blame NS Power for not getting power back on soon enough. Blame the cell companies for spotty reflection. Remember my previous post where I tried to just not look at my phone for guidance on my trip down to this retreat? Yup... we create our own chaotic and unhappy lives.
Challenge.... try to be still. Try to just notice what disrupts the attempt at stillness. Then look more deeply at what you are really looking for? I was sitting in that meditation hall counting recitations, in an attempt for peace, yes. AND I was looking to be a good Yogi, a better person. What I really wanted was to be a part of something bigger than myself and yet, I sat there judging all those who make up that bigger than myself community.
Writing, journalling, podcasting... it's all about sharing the journey.