I light a stick of incense and drink a mouthful of cold water. I sit in an old, red rocking chair that belonged to my grandparents and begin with some breathing mindfulness, the technique that best helps me clear and still my mind at the start. The subtle smoke fills my nose and then is drawn down into my lungs. Counting deep breaths on a mala, I clear away thoughts and direct my attention to the intake of air. I soon move on to some other focuses, not struggling at all to be in the moment. This attempt is starting much better than the last so I begin to settle into the stillness.
My memory of the meditation stops there and I’m aware time has passed without me being conscious of it. I open my eyes and see some incense I was burning has come to the end of its smoky release. I don’t feel like I’ve been sleeping but that must be it. I slipped into a short slumber and eased out of it without being aware of either.
One of my biggest obsticles in meditating is falling asleep as I become calm and relaxed. It seems I allow myself to be kept from prolonged meditation by a lack of focus that either prevents me from starting or leads to me sleeping through the time I have dedicated to the meditation. I’m committed to the practice of meditation but at times I become frustrated by this. I will have to find a way to work around my limitation.
One source of help I’ve encountered is Mole, a blog by someone I gather is of the Vajrayanan branch of Buddhism. The author shared two pieces that I found to be insightful and useful for my own meditation practice. In “Confessions” the topic is the false notion that one “can’t meditate.”
If you’ve discovered that you can’t meditate, you have already learned the first of the only two things meditation has to teach you, to wit, that your mind is not under your control. There is only one thing more to learn. (No, not that it can be under your control. It will never be under your control. Give that up, it’s a lost cause.) The second thing meditation has to teach you, is that the mind can be still. “You” can’t make it hold still, because “you” are the problem. But it can be still. Put the conditions in place, and eventually — eventually — it will become still. As you practice, it will become still more easily, it will quiet down faster and it will stay quiet longer. It’s not a linear progression, not by any means, but it is a reliable progression.
“How to be Uncomfortable” talks of how we become distracted by discomfort during meditation and how to work with this.
An eventual goal of mine is to be able to sit in a Lotus position, a position most who have not meditated will associate with meditation. My legs are not supple enough to do much more than conventional crossed leg sitting so I’ll need to do some conditioning with some sort of stretching routine. While my interest in yoga is peripheral for now, the yoga site Moving Into Stillness has provided me with some stretches that I will be working on to achieve my goal of sitting in lotus. You’ll find diagrams and descriptions at “A Few Asanas – Lotus.”
Wellness and personal evolution are processes that can be very daunting and challenging. The reward is worth every effort and setback because the reward is ultimately contentment and wholeness.