Saturday, December 8, 2012
Life has it's little routines, some of them built in by choice, like that morning cup of tea, and some not so much, like paying the electric bill or letting the cat out. By doing things, the same things, over and over again, we usually get better at them. The tea doesn't steep too long and become bitter or cool off before we drink it. Remembering to sign the check and put a stamp on the envelope before dropping the payment into the slot at the post office. Letting the cat out before it deposits a hair ball on the kitchen floor. We need to pay attention, of course.
With meditation it's much the same. The path to stillness becomes more familiar the more often we use it. Carving out a regular time in the day is often the best strategy to begin to make sitting meditation a part of your daily routine. Most likely that's going to be at the beginning of your day before the hustle bustle of the world sets in or in the late afternoon or early evening after the hurly burly has settled down and you may really need a way to unwind if it's been stressful or hectic. You might even consider bookending your day by meditating.
Any way you decide to do it, a conscious decision is best in order to seek out a time that's lends itself to the time apart needed to anchor your sitting practice. We all know the expression that says humans are creatures of habit. It's really very true. By letting this tendency work in our favor, we can encourage things like brushing our teeth, doing the dishes, writing to-do lists or going for a walk, to become habits. Almost anything can become a habit and become part of our routine, even if we don't do it daily.
Getting started is the hardest part. Now there's a piece of folk wisdom we should pay attention to. Can this really be true? Is simply sitting on a cushion with the intent to be mindfully present for a few minutes actually the most difficult task involved in establishing your meditation practice? There's only one way to know.
That's why they call it a practice. Ironically, is it not practice for the real thing, it is the real thing. And so is every other minute of every day. When you find yourself on your cushion once again, just smile and enjoy the ride.