Scared. Wrung-out. Confused. Elated. Joyful. Sick. Powerful. Irritated. Uncertain. On any given day lately, it seems like I experience all these emotions, often within the span of a very short period of time. As someone who values steadfastness, I'm looking to bring a little more equanimity into my life, so I've undertaken a "challenge" of a non-Bikram-but-very-Bikram-related kind.
I've been incorporating meditation into my life lately. I've been studying it in books and listening to talks on meditation and Buddhism from sites like dharmaseed.org. Yoga itself is a form of meditation--I often think Bikram is a meditation trial by fire: learn to be in the moment or you're a gonner.
But I've been feeling like I've been in the "learning about meditating" phase for a long time. It's time to really roll up my sleeves and establish a routine that I stick to unfailingly, like brushing my teeth in the morning or greeting my kitties when I come home from work.
Sharon Salzberg, a well-known Vipassana (I think!) meditation instructor, has a new book out called Real Happiness, and in it, she challenges people to take up meditating 15 minutes or more a day for a month. On her website, she's asked readers to begin the challenge at the start of February, and invites people to blog about what they're experiencing and share in a sort of online sangha (Buddhist community).
Admittedly, I don't actually have her book. But I have read others and have met her in person and listen to her talks, and I've undertaken the challenge of meditating 15 minutes a day. (15 minutes is a long time.) While I don't plan to blog about it all here, I'm sure future posts will be influenced by what comes up.
So far, it's been very ... interesting. Just like in practicing yoga, when meditating, you never know what's going to come up. Sometimes you can get a sense of real peace and joy, sometimes demons wake up and rattle their cages, and sometimes it can get boring. One of the keys I've learned from exploring Buddhism is a lesson I don't think most of us get: not to judge. As stuff comes up, it's inevitable we want to attach judgment to it. "Oh her. She was so cruel to say that. Didn't she realize how thoughtless she was being?" And then I am mad at myself for feeling judgment when I should be feeling nothing but warm, fuzzy lovingkindness. Sometimes I am able to remember: don't judge... not even the judgment part.
I'm trying not to set rigid goals for what I'm going to "get" from this little challenge. I'm trying not to have expectations. But I am pretty sure that looking into the pool of my mind, watching the mud settle, and seeing what lays on the bottom is a good place to start.