For me sitting is almost like training in success. Almost? Always! I succeed every time I sit down. I succeed when I notice my attention has wandered from the breath. I succeed when I realize I have lost equanimity, I succeed when I notice my craving to achieve the first jhana, I succeed in seeing the path to enlightenment. Every time!
And even now as I write this, I can feel the urge to turn this success into failure – to somehow say: “Do you really think it’s like this, living? Success, over and over again?” Although I don’t fully believe that this is what “living” is but, rather, “This is what it’s like to be me.”
And this is what it’s like!
There is a breath of joy in it, and that breath is my breath. I open my heart to receive it.
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For me sitting is almost like training in failure. Almost? Always. I fail every time I sit down. I fail to keep my attention on the breath. I fail to maintain equanimity, I fail to achieve even the first jhana, I fail to become enlightened. Every time.
And even now as I write this, I can feel the attempt to turn this failure into success – to somehow say: “This is what it is, living. Failing, over and over again.” Although I don’t fully believe that this is what “living” is but, rather, “This is what it’s like to be me.”
And this is what it’s like.
There is a breath of despair to it, and that breath is my breath. I open my heart to receive it.
I haven’t been sitting that much recently. It pains me a bit. I want to sit. I like sitting. But I’m so tired in the morning, I almost always go back to sleep for half an hour or so after the alarm goes off.
I’m consoled a bit by a story Gil Fronsdal tells about Kamala Masters, how her teacher told her she should meditate an hour very day. Masters, single with a bunch of kids, protested there was no way she could find a “free” hour every day to sit. And her teacher, disbelieving, stayed with her for a few days and saw that she truly didn’t have the time. But he noticed that Masters spent a lot if time each day in a small hallway in the middle of her house, walking from room to room. So he told her to make that her meditation hall, even in 30-second snippets throughout the day. Masters took his advice and developed a deep meditation practice in the common domestic duties she performed every day. Later, when her children were older and she was able to attend a longer retreat POW! She got super fuckin’ calm and concentrated right away. And now she’s a famous Dharma teacher. So there you go!
Still, I wish I was sitting more consistently. I’d be into that.
I’m generally convinced I’m the worst meditator ever. I rarely follow more than a few breaths at a time, and by a few I mean a few – like two or three. Then, when I realize I’ve become distracted, I’m filled with despair and self-recrimination. I’ll never get this. It’s hopeless.
Then I notice what’s happening. And then I think “Let go…”
…and I return my attention to my breath…
and I breathe.