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  • Written by  Ian Ives
  • // Friday, 04 November 2011 08:16
Ian Ives

Meditation--True Confessions

I’ve been meditating now for over 15 years. It’s one of the most important things in my life and also one of my favorite things to avoid.

My alarm is set for 5:45 am…I think. The theory is to have enough time to do at least an hour of meditation in the morning before I seize the day. What often happens is...

 

...that I roll out of bed around 6:30 or 7 after a prolonged state of war between my dreams and the alarm clock. Once I’ve finally determined that I have no choice but to get up, I quickly try to calculate how long I can sit on my cushion before I have to jump in the shower, make breakfast (oh yes and eat it too) and start the workday.

 

Over the years, I’ve made countless agendas, schedules and plans for my meditation practice, most of them hopelessly over-ambitious or optimistically unrealistic. I generally follow them for about a day or two before things break down.

Here’s what often happens in my day: I’m going around lost in business, anxiety or some sort of inner-emotional soap opera. The thought then comes into my head, “hey, why don’t you go sit down and practice?”

I think, “that’s a great idea, I’m sure it would help.” But then I proceed to go online and read the news for a half hour, try to do some more work, or anything I can to distract myself from myself. This can go on for quite a while. It’s like an ever hopeful search for a way to feel more at ease that doesn’t involve connecting with myself.

It never works out.

I always end up back on the cushion wondering why on earth I don’t do this more often. It’s amazing after so many years…but true.

I’m not sure how it is for you, but for me meditation is so much more than sitting down to find some peace of mind. It’s more like a reoccurring reality check, or like making a call to your best friend, when you know you’ve done a lousy job of keeping in touch.

Each time I make it to the cushion, it is both a reminder of the incredible potential I have as my innermost essence, and also a painful acknowledgement of the endless ways I work at obstructing myself from realizing it. Meditation is bittersweet—a glimpse of my inherent goodness and simultaneously my deep habits of staying closed and blissfully ignorant. It is joyful recognition and embarrassing honesty all at once. Perhaps this is why I so often try to avoid it, and yet also why I can’t.

Somehow meditation never fails to bring me home—closer to the core of my being. Often it’s so subtle that I don’t notice until long after I’ve left the cushion and I see that my mind is just a bit more tuned in both to myself and the world around me. Ironically, the very best experiences I ever have come when I have to just drag myself to the cushion kicking and screaming, only to discover after about a half hour, the most unbelievable transformation of my mind and heart.

My daily schedule may not be that impressive, but I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter if I’m a good meditator or a hopeless failure. What matters is simply each time I sit down—and simply that. In the end for me there is no choice but to look within.