The work of meditation

Today I sat down for my regular time of meditation. I have previously been chatting with my wife and had left her a voicemail. Figuring that if I began to sit, she would certainly call, I took care of a few chores first and finally began to sit.

As is my normal practice, I first purposefully take notice and attempt to be aware of my body, starting with my feet and ending with my breath. As I began to focus on my breathing, feeling calm and focused, aware of my thoughts but not engaging in dialogue with them, the phone rings. I probably should have allowed it to ring and called her when I finished, but unfortunately, I didn’t do that. So I took the call and then settled back into my sitting, focusing on my breath.

IT was at that time that our cat decided that she wanted to be petted and walked over and began to rub up against me as cats do. This time, having learned my lesson, I was aware of the cat but did not turn away from my breath. Eventually the cat got the hint and went over to a chair where she found my library book. Now my cat really likes plastic for some odd reason and as I focused on my breath I was aware that she was rubbing up against the book (which was a copy of the Tibetan book of the Dead). Still I didn’t turn from my breath. But then she stared to bite and rip the plastic, at which time I shewed her off.

I share these experiences for two reasons. First, meditation is work because of all that would interupt (be it thoughts, story lines in your head or noises or pets). Those of you reading this, if you have a practice of meditation, probably have had time like that of which I just spoke. The second and more important reason I share my experience is that it relates to a previous post where one is aware of their thoughts (and emotions) recognizing them, identifying them but not following after them. The goal is Merely letting them be what they are without judgement or trying to remove, ignore or override them. So after multiple interruption, I again focus toward my breath and the present moment. What I was aware of immediately was anger. I was angry because my time had been interuppted and disturbed. I took note of that, named it and returned to my breathing. So even though my sitting had not progressed like I would have wanted it to, I was able to be mindful of my emotions without entering into a self dialogue about my anger. I knew from whence it came and I returned to the present moment with all that it was.

I can see that the training part of meditation is meant to be applied in all our various engagements throughout our day. To be aware of ourselves, our emotions, thoughts and intentions in the present moment. This awareness provides us opportunity to choose mindfully how to proceed rather than just reacting. While I might not always respond in this way, I appreciate for the opportunity to take a step back and be mindful, where previously I would have just been angry.

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