Paradox of Practice
We are one week into the online training I teach : Mindful SelfCare™. The homework for this week was all about increasing awareness of the breath and beginning to regulate breathing patterns . A student expresses frustration:
“ I did not really like that breath thing you had us do all week and I am really eager to get going with this thing, so when are we going to get to the real meditation part?”.
I get it. The week has been intense. As Samantha Bee said: we are only one menstrual cycle into the current administration! (and can already hardly bear it!) My student has turned to this meditation training series for a Time Out and some fast relief. She is really asking, “ when will I feel the hoped for and much needed calm and balance this meditation stuff is suppose to give me? “
And so it is that we approach the essential paradox of meditation practice -or any other practice which ultimately slows us down , turns us inward, and cultivates spaciousness in our internal experience and hence in our lives:
~We must to slow down in order to slow down.~
Much of meditation practice entails creating borders and boundaries — rituals if you will- around a space and place in time that signals to us : I am HERE. This is the moment NOW for practicing BEING over Doing
In Jewish Tradition , a basic opening prayer of the daily liturgy says, (paraphrased and loosely translated): I pray that I might be able to pray fully. In a yoga class, we typically remove shoes, lay out mats, begin speaking in hushed tones or moving into silence. We enter into the class in a way that supports entering into ourselves. In a home practice, we might close a door, put on a shawl or hat , or take off a hat , light incense or otherwise set aside the place and space for practice. We signal to ourselves as much as to those we live with: I am entering my Time Out mode now. (rather: My Time IN mode).
We almost have to sneak up on meditation with a certain respectful and skillful stealth, to trick ourselves into stepping into this delicate intimacy we are about to invite.
We must slow down in order to slow down. And slow down in order to slow down to slow down. A fractal forever winding into stilling and winding out of tense expectancy ,until we live in the space of slow down, of internal being and spaciousness more of the time than not. (and even then…)
Go slow to arrive no where but here. Be slow to make fast progress to now. Not Kidding. Really. Easier said than done. Hence: Find a trustworthy Guide. Trustworthy. And honor your breath as The Teacher.