If you build it, they will come
17 September 2008 1 Comment
Nearly 20 years after its release, the signature phrase from Field of Dreams (1989) has entered the popular consciousness. Its message of hope and optimism may seem rather naive, or relevant (depending on one’s inclination), given the madness that we seem to be embroiled in today.
On a personal level, this past week has been intense, the Pisces Full Moon releasing a lot of emotion I haven’t felt since the darker times of 2001/2002. Only, perhaps, I’m a bit older and wiser now and better able to deal with it, if not necessarily understand it. What I have managed to re-establish these past two weeks is a twice-daily sitting practice, which I’d never managed with sustained regularity before. I sit for about 10 or 15 minutes, then pick up a passage to read from one of the few dharma books I have, and sit for another 10 or 15 mins. The reading break helps focus the meditation, and also get some reading done! I always intend to read more, but manage to find the ‘no time’ excuse every time.
I’m not certain if this regular sitting is calming the inner turmoil or giving it space to emerge. My feeling, for this period anyway, is the latter, because I’m acutely aware of the turmoil, even as I type these words. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t necessarily about ‘bliss’, and instant ‘inner peace’. Often it can bring up long, repressed thoughts and emotions that would otherwise be kept down by our daily routines and general ‘busy-ness’. The practice is to sit and watch what comes up.
What’s kept me going back to the cushion twice a day, every day, for two weeks, is really unexpectedly simple (for me, at least). I found a spot in my tiny flat to lay out the cushion, mat, bell, candle, and incense, against a bit of wall, to use for the purpose. In other words, all the external accoutrements of a meditation practice. Previously, my cushion was tied up in a bag, and had to be laid out every time I remembered to practice. Seems counter-intuitive, I know, since practice is supposed to be about divesting ourselves of external accoutrements. But I reckon the physical act of making a space helps my mind to make a space in the day, rather than previously, when it was incumbent on my mind to remember it was time to practice before creating the space in order to do so.
If you make the space for practice, it will come. Now staying the course is a whole different prospect.
Image: Zafu (meditation cushion) Source: Wikimedia Commons.