|The tall pines outside of Zimmerman Library at UNM.|
I've tried meditation before and, like most people, found myself failing miserably. This week I had bit of enlightenment. For those of us that seem to think that meditating is someplace you arrive at, or that you fail at miserably, the secret is that... there is no secret. "Follow the breath" they tell us, and if our mind strays, "simply return to the breath."
And you know what? We'll fuck that up left and right. But it's OK, because when we try to spend a few moments doing it (comfort really is the key -- forget the lotus position if you are, like me, a little ungainly) even if our thoughts drift and we notice that, we are noting that we are intending to meditate, and that's a wonderful start.
I've bben doing something along the lines of a meditation the past three or four days. After my morning classes are done, I take a break by sitting out beneath the trees in front of Zimmerman Library at UNM. And the meditation is, for the most part, simply me breathing. Not worrying about 2-beats in and 4-out. Just breathing and feeling the breeze and the sunshine. Being aware of all that is going on around me, but not focusing on any one thing.
And you know what else? When I hear a commotion, I open my eyes and check it out. Then I go back to the breathing. and after 20 minutes or so, I feel well rested.
I've found another benefit here. I incorporate the breathing more as I'm just walking around. And when I encounter students walking UP the DOWN staircase, I just breathe. I breathe through it.
But more betterer? (I'm a Creative Writing Major -- I can say shit like that.) The breathing when I encounter things that would normally make me angry -- or snarky (see elsewhere) like some kid who thinks her hair really does look good dyed green, or a guy in a faux-hawk and a Hollister shirt -- My mind recognizes that little bit of snark developing (the shenpa that Pema Chödrön speaks of) I am able to stop, breathe, and look at them with compassion. They are, after all, just trying to fit in. Regardless of what they say, they are trying to be assured that they are human, that they belong.
It's been nothing short of amazing. When one practices a martial art in the studio the intent is that it will be developed in the streets (or in competition.) I think the same is true of meditation. Learn it in solitude, but practice it in life.
My life still is full of... life, but its becoming more doable by the awareness that I am getting with even half-assed meditation.
You should try it. Get comfortable. Breathe. Embrace failure.