Meditation is my balance. It’s hard to fully articulate what it actually does for me, except that I am more awake and loving when I am doing it consistently. It’s both a maintenance practice, one that I need to do every day if possible to stay sane, and also a spiritual act that helps me become more present and grateful for life.
This morning I meditated for a half-hour and decided to write this after because I was more aware of the turbulence of my consciousness this morning. I used John Makransky’s benefactor meditations to get me started and then moved to a more traditional vipassana style meditation. I tried to be fully aware of the many sorts of thoughts and feelings that came up and will try to articulate some of them here.
Early in today’s meditation, I felt a sense of fear and sadness. I felt how much I wanted to avoid pain and rejection from the people I love, how much anger hurts me. There is an inner child deep down there that is closer to the surface. It is one that is easily pushed away by daily life. We all need armor to survive the scariness of existence. But most of us forgot or are not aware that we are wearing that armor. We start to identify with our armor, our personality, our ego. We think we are those things.
We are not. I can say that safely. Can you see that? I hope you can. I’m not always able to see that, but I can when I am quiet as I am today. I can feel my vulnerability pulsating. I am afraid often. What fear needs more than anything is compassion. I offer myself some compassion and acceptance in this moment. I tell myself to love and accept myself as I am. I feel like crying but don’t because a sound catches my attention.
I hear the shower turn on. I am distracted by the noise and lost focus. My inner dialogue becomes louder. I think about showering later. I think about my workday. I run through my schedule quickly, mentally note all my clients for the day. I feel hungry too. I could use another cup of coffee. I will go down and make a pot later. I make a mental note to work out later too, maybe take a run. Suddenly I feel angry at the shower noise. I want peace and this is disturbing me.
I catch my running dialogue and return to the breath. I let go of the anger, know it’s not anyone’s fault. I chuckle at my need, the human need to lash out at others when they are disturbed. I check in with myself and ask “what is this?” I don’t have an answer but stay present with the question. I follow my breath and stay present for a while. I feel tranquil like a still pond. Thoughts slide away.
It occurs to me now as I write this how turbulent my consciousness is. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It is fairly random. The Buddhists preach anatta, also known as non-self. It simply states the “I” is not fixed or permanent or unchanging. That what we call the self is a number of different factors manifesting in the present moment. It’s not hard to see that present in today’s meditation. Which one of my experiences while meditating was really me? Was it the vulnerable one? The planning one? The calm one? It’s none of them. What the west calls the “self” is far more ephemeral than we realize. Everything is changing including our consciousness.
I don’t know exactly how that helps my life except that I know it does. Perhaps it’s as simple as not getting too attached to any mental state because it will pass. Perhaps all meditation is just practicing over and over again letting go of thoughts, feelings, expectations, and maybe the armor or ego we have built over the years.