Meditation, like asana and pranayama, is a branch of yoga.
Writing about meditation makes me
nervous. I have an irrational and enormous love of what amounts to
sitting still, doing not very much, and feel it is impossible to do it
justice in words. It’s like trying to describe the way you love your dog or your child to a new friend, hoping to give her the same
experience you’ve had. It’s impossible, isn’t it?
Several of you have written to say that you can’t stand Savasana (Corpse Pose). It made me laugh to read it, but it was that tense I-completely-understand-what-you-mean laughter. It’s difficult to slow down, to be silent, and to convince the crack-addled monkey brain to take a nap. It’s difficult to let go of what I know, even if what I know is the root of my insomnia, my itchy scalp, my irritability, and the fact that I sometimes eat three bowls of soup in order to taste one spoonful.
Today, despite wanting to fill you with the deep desire for stillness, I’ll say this: Don’t
meditate until you want to. (In truth, I feel the same about
asana. People email, occasionally, saying they hate yoga but
would really like to work up the oomph to have a regular practice.
My response is, don’t do it. Stay away. Go on with needlepoint,
caber tossing, or Vietnamese cooking. Pursue the things that are already delicious to you. If caber tossing brings you peace and a sense of oneness, caber tossing is your yoga. Yoga should not be a battle.)
Meditation may be endlessly interesting, challenging, and blissful, but
if your heart isn’t leading you there, go with your heart.
Another thing: Meditation is about
meeting yourself. Your Self, which, in my vernacular, means meeting
Truth, Love, Here and Now, Meaning, Purpose, Vulnerability, Openness, Honesty,
Fullness and Emptiness, Joy, and Peace, to name a few of
the biggies. If you decide to do it, then I suggest (and I have
absolutely no expertise, so feel free to toss my opinions overboard)
that you do yourself a favor by lowering your expectations and getting rid of your attachments to
outcome before you start. No one is handing out prizes at the end based on whether or not you stayed in full lotus, kept your eyes shut, and remained pure of heart.
An excellent way to begin gently is to
consider yourself victorious if you sit quietly for 10 seconds.
Five seconds. Just lower your bum to the couch for a moment as you’re
walking from your bedroom to the kitchen, and say, good, I did it. I
Tomorrow you may do it again. If it
feels good, follow it.
There are 1,000 meditation methods. Surf the web, check the library, ask your yoga teacher. Over the next couple of posts, I’ll concern myself with “why to” rather than “how to.”
It would be impossible to describe how
much I hope this works for you. In my limited experience, being present is miraculous.
To those of you who are meditators already,
feel free to share your enthusiasm. Your words may attract newbies.
Thanks to yoga for bringing us home,
and thanks to you for the conversation,