>From the Bhagavad-Gita, translation by Eknath Easwaran.
“By its very nature the untrained mind is restless, constantly wandering here and there trying to fulfill its desires. It flickers wildly like a flame in a storm- never blown completely out, yet at the mercy of the wind. Wherever it wanders, Krishna says, it must be brought back to its source; it must learn to rest in the Self. Once it is at home in the depths of contemplation, the mind becomes steady, like an upright, unflickering flame in a windless place. In this deep meditation, and only there, can the human being find true fulfillment. Then “the still mind touches Brahman and enjoys bliss.”
This is the page I just turned to, at random. What struck me most was this line: “It flickers wildly like a flame in a storm- never blown completely out, yet at the mercy of the wind.”
What suffering, I think, and know. To have a mind with wild thoughts that are blown about by the wind. Thoughts, that can be so tormenting at times, yet they are never blown completely out. What agony. What destruction of bliss.
The key, however- meditation.
When I was growing up as a teenager, my friends and I often walked through our living room apartment from my bedroom to the kitchen, to see my dad sitting on his black cushion, with his eyes open and fixed on a certain point on the floor. We would want to laugh and giggle, wondering if he might too. Or if he’d get mad. I am sure my friends thought he was weird, and if they said so, I of course would agree. But, I really thought it was kind of cool, special and intriguing even.
My parents were both raised Catholic, and I think it was a pretty conscious decision for them to save me from some of the torment they received being raised in this way. So, instead I was not shown a traditional religious way of life. I was given freedom to come to it on my own. So, it was cool I had, and have a dad who has a spiritual practice, even though at the time I didn’t understand.
As I got older, and as suffering came my way, as my dad assured me it would, I would call him to talk about it. He listened, and would sometimes say helpful things, and one of those things was- meditate.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I would think to myself, not wanting to hurt his feelings. Although sometimes I spoke up and said, “How is sitting on a cushion going to help me figure anything out.” So, now as I sit here trying to figure it all out, I find it brings no satisfaction. It actually brings nothing but suffering and head pain, and this overwhelming feeling like I am going to burst or die if I don’t stop frickin’ thinkin’. Which is why the statement above from the Gita is so important, and has me preparing to meditate- again.
Because in 2003 after I ended up in New Prague, MN instead of Maui, HI I began a meditation practice. It started out “by the book”- 20 minutes a day, every morning. The first week or so I did feel a bit more blissful, but after this, I felt myself losing interest. I was keeping track of the time, waiting for the 20 minutes to be over. So instead of quitting, which would be my next step, I decided to commit to 10 minutes instead of 20. 10 minutes felt more doable than 20, so it worked. I continued this for quite some time, and eventually I got up to 20 minutes again.
I held this practice for over 3 years, and then as stress and busy life took over when we moved again, I let it go. I would shame myself into it once or twice a week, and then once or twice a month, until finally it was non-existent. But, now as I said it is ready to enter again.
This time, however I get the feeling in order to really make it last, I must connect to a “why” and concrete it. I feel this because of recent experience of my commitment to gluten-free living. Once I made a connection with feeling good, turning down unhealthy choices became easy. It doesn’t mean I don’t crave it. I do. In fact, my daughter, who is doing it too, and I will have lengthy conversations about donuts, and cake, and pizza and burgers. But we never eat it. Okay, rarely ever. We just still like to talk about it.
So, as I ready myself for another delve into a practice I need my why, my connector. And that reason is the quote above. The swirling of thoughts that have no place to go but more swirling, is becoming unbearable. It is creating an unlivable and intolerable environment for me. As I say this I observe one of those swirling thoughts of fear. If I begin will I let myself down again? Will I let it go again?
I don’t know. But what I do know is I didn’t really let myself down when I “quit” the first time. Those three years were vital to my practice as I developed the discipline to just sit and do it for even 10 minutes. Those three years are my foundation, which will hold the next 3-75 or so (I could live to 112, especially if I meditate).
No, no, no. There’s the beauty and utter challenge of mediation- to seek nothing in doing it. So, as I meditate on that I will continue to anchor in the desire to “rest in the Self” especially when thoughts are swirling.
How about you? Do you have a mediation practice? Have you thought about developing one? What is your motivation behind it? Do you have expectations for it?
It is said music is what happens in the space in between the sound. Wayne Dyer talks about Getting in the Gap- of our thoughts. Imagine the music that is there- or isn’t there…..
The Soon-to-be Meditating, while Still Reporting,