I have come to view meditation as a time where I commune with myself about myself by not talking to myself...
When I sit down on the cushion something happens to me. All the things that are bouncing like atoms inside my brain, slow down. The thoughts become more still and less superbally. They are still there pinging around but they have less impact. They have less stickiness. I am able for a few moments to wrangle myself away from myself and just be.
It doesn’t last long and I have to begin again...but that is meditation. Even for people who have practiced for a long time, they come, they go, they always begin again.
Meditation has become this process by which I leave me, and return to me. Over and over again, every time I sit.
There are times when I stubbornly refuse to meditate and it has always perplexed me. Why am I so hell bent on running away from myself? Habit. Yep... But also because somewhere a very long time ago, I left me. I jumped into you and the habit of leaving myself and that became how I did life. Leaving myself. Running away from me. Which upon retrospect was really dumb because I always have to come back to me...so I have to begin again and it would have been so much easier to just not leave in the first place...
There are lots of reasons why I left me. And over the years, I have found just as many reasons to return. This process of meditation provides me an unconditional friendliness to myself. A place to sit with myself and wonder about me while using a practice that is designed to clear away all my bullshit and give me a place to just exist without all the idle chatter. It isn't a long pause but the pause is long enough for the ongoing incessant internal monologue to be disrupted.
I have heard many people say that mediation is the absence of thought. No it isn’t. It is finding a way to deal with the thoughts. It is a process by which you sit down with yourself and instead of doing what you usually do: numb out, check out, leave, you learn to stay. Stay with all of it, all of you. Just be with yourself, dropping judgment and storylines and the like, just letting them drop and float away.
My meditation practice is very old. I think I started at 13. I certainly don’t think that I have gotten very far. But that is the thing about meditation, it isn’t about where you go, it is about where you are. Right there on the cushion, sitting with you as your mind does what it does, over and over again. I think the fact that I don’t feel like there is any better to get to is probably a pretty good indicator that meditation is working in my life. I don’t need to become better, I am not on the cushion to be better. I am there because it is the place where I have learned to be myself. To accept who and what I am while allowing the thoughts that pull me here and there to just float away and move on.
I have learned so much by doing nothing but sitting there. And what I have perhaps learned more than anything is that I still resist the cushion. The slowing down. The sitting still. The being with myself. I resist it because I have learned that exiting Erin is the way I have done this life. Meditation is where I go to occupy myself for no one other than myself. Surely it benefits others. But foundationally, it benefits me. Showing me once again that I am not something to run from. Quite the contrary, I might be something to run towards. This relationship with me the most important one that I have, save God. But I will never find God or Divinity or anything that exists in the spirit realm so long as I am running. God, comes to me while I am still, while I am quiet, sitting on a cushion or walking in the woods. My God needs me still or quiet to be able to speak to me.
So I return to the cushion, coming to know myself better than the last time I sat. Holding onto who I am while that evaporates into the time passage and allowing me to see with fresh eyes who I might become.
What I have learned is that if I am not meditating, I am running away from me. And if I am doing that, I am running from you too. So much running in this life, I have so come to enjoy myself sitting in the morning, watching the new day creep in, hearing the birds sing their morning song and being in a hurry to be nowhere but right there with myself.