Monday, February 11, 2013

meditation is not easy

Meditation is not easy.  I've been practicing meditation on and off for several years now and consistently for just about 2 years.  At first, I used to think something was supposed to "happen" during mediation.  I was waiting for something to change and for my body/mind to feel dramatically different once I was actually meditating, so to speak.  There are a handful of meditation techniques out there that are extremely helpful tools. However, some days I just focus on not opening my eyes the whole time, sitting as still as I possibly can, resisting the temptation to fidget or finding comfort within the uncomfortable.  All of these aspects of sitting are extremely challenging for me.  One step at a time, or as Manorama says, "Pade, Pade."  I usually just choose one at a time and focus on that for a while.  Today, my task was to keep my eyes shut the whole time.  Its so hard not to peek at the timer.  

I realize that experienced meditators may argue that what I am describing is not actually meditation.  However, for right now, I am just working on maintaining my focus. When I first started sitting, I literally couldn't sit still.  If you would have given me an advanced asana to figure out, I would work intensely for months (or even years). But attempting to sit still and close my eyes was a whole new type of challenge. It has taken a long time to be able to sit still.  And now it actually feels good to sit still, even if my mind is still moving a million miles per hour.  Pade, Pade.  

For me, the effects of meditation have been subtle, yet major.  Mantra is the first meditation technique I was drawn to, and still am.  Mantra is repeating a word or phrase over and over again.  Often, I keep count with malas. My favorite is the Ganesha mantra, "Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha."  From what I understand, mantra has a message and a meaning.  According to Tantric Scholar, Douglas Brooks, " The message refers to nothing more than the matrkamalini, the relationship between order and chaos, karma and lila, the self-same self-organizing principles of reality shaping memory.  It is the syllables, the sequence, the rules that create the access to memory.  For meaning, it is the description of the siddhi and the identification with the deity who is, of course, nothing other than nature, society, and yourself."  

I have always deeply connected to the teachings of Ganesha.  He is best known as the remover of obstacles, however, I have learned via experience that he is also the placer of obstacles.  For example, if you pray for patience, don't be surprised to find yourself in a traffic jam.  Ganesha us gives the opportunity to practice over and over again until we get it right.  For me, I wanted so badly to trust.  In order to trust, I had to learn to be honest with myself and those I love most.  Its a practice.  So I repeated this mantra 108 times a day. Then, one day, something started to shift.  I didn't realize I was indeed meditating. Or that chanting this mantra was actually doing something. But there I was, in a healthy trusting relationship with the love of my life.  I had cultivated solid, honest friendships. And, my relationships with my family had never been better.  Whoa!  I am not saying by simply repeating this mantra all of this happened.  I am saying that the mantra did something to me.  Or maybe even more specifically, the mantra helped me gain the consciousness to change an aspect of myself with a lot of focus and hard work.

There are a lot of ways to meditate.  Some I enjoy, others seem impossible at this point.  But I do know it is worthwhile.  It can be overwhelming at times, but I try and remember that this practice is meant for my entire lifetime.  Not just for a few years.  My job is to keep showing up to practice and welcome the hard work this practice requires.

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