November 2013 : A Month of Meditation Practice

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I completed my November month of meditation having only missed one day. Half the time it was with a group, and the other half by myself at home. Typically, by myself, I meditated for 45 minutes before going to sleep.

Have I transformed? It’s hard to say. Especially because I don’t want to make meditation into yet another project. Sitting on my cushion is the one time that I devote entirely to the present moment, to just being with myself. I want to say that I daydream and worry less. That I have more daily moments of great peace and gratitude. While I still feel that infinite emptiness within myself, most times I don’t feel the urge anymore to run away from it, fix it, or think it’s a problem. I want to say that I’ve connected with people on a deeper level. It would be nice to have that kind of great certainty. But I have no idea if any of that occurred, and, if so, because of meditating….but definitely seems correlated.

The month was easier also since I did a weekend program at the Shambhala Center and started practicing at the Cambridge Insight Center as well. I’ll be spending a day at the Kwam Um Zen Center as well. I do very much prefer group practice.

This morning, while feeling encouraged by a full month of consistent practice, I was reading Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham. The book mentions establishing a base of Shamatha practice or calm abiding meditation that’s a refuge. Meditation shouldn’t seem like a chore requiring white knuckled discipline to get through but an old friend you’re happy to see. I realized my practice, specifically when I practice alone, isn’t always like this. A lot of times my discursive thoughts get the better of me after twenty minutes or so. But what’s the difference between mediating with a group and by myself?

When I sit with others, I don’t have nearly as much difficulty with wanting to quit or getting bored. Besides the peer pressure/support, it’s the fact that I’m outside my home, away from my usual distractions. No computer to go browse the internet or a bed to go to sleep. I know when I go to the center, my only activity is to meditate.

So, I’m going to try cultivating more of the peaceful abiding and enjoying the meditation rather than seeking insight. progress. or measurement.

I will continue meditating daily in December. I also feel drawn to write a lot more about meditation and dharma these days so maybe more posts in the future.

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