If you've read Basically Good, my last post, you know that I’ve decided to give meditation another go, after countless cycles of trying, failing and forgetting.
This time I’m committed.
As a solopreneur, obsessive wordsmither and single parent of a high-school-hating man-child, I could really use some mental down time.
So a few weeks ago I attended a weekend retreat at the Shambhala Mountain Center, two hours from my home in Denver.
The book, according to Amazon, “makes it possible for anyone to achieve peace and clarity in their lives” by strengthening, calming, and stabilizing the mind.
Though we never opened the book, this 2003 bestseller was the text for our retreat.
I chomped at the bit to read and discuss. But instead we tried to experience “peaceful abiding.”
We focused on our breath and we watched our thoughts come and go. All weekend. In 15-minute intervals. At times it was excruciating.
J. was convinced her fidgeting drove the rest of us crazy.
Y. feared she would fall asleep and possibly fall over.
C. suffered headaches and body pain.
And I toggled back and forth, between the moment and the meta and back again. Am I living this? Or am I already writing a story about it in my head?
I also felt glorious moments of calm.
Back at home, it's entirely up to me how often I practice and how peacefully I learn to abide.
“Whatever you think you can do, reduce it by a third,” said our teacher Greg. So I shoot for three days midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and one day of the weekend.
I set my timer for 15 minutes, not the 20 I first imagined.
Already, I am able to notice when my mind is vibrating. How full it is of truant thoughts and chatter.
Will my client cut the check? Is anyone reading my blog? Will that lousy kid find his way in the world?
And then I remember that noticing the thoughts is the necessary first step to becoming mindful. Sakyong Mipham wrote:
“Peaceful abiding is a practice of noticing how the mind vibrates—how it creates story, speed and solidity—and learning how to tune it to the present moment.”
So I sit. I refocus on my breath. Finish my session. And go out into the world.
Because that is where all of this will really matter.