Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually sit down, sit still, fold my legs, close my eyes, breathe rhythmically and try to meditate. Meditation sounds in theory like the perfect cure for what ails me. I do want to feel balanced and peaceful. I want to look within and find a “bright vein of goodness.” I want to heighten my awareness, pay attention, develop lovingkindness. I want to weather hard times better and rediscover a deeper sense of what’s really important to me. I want to be in closer touch with the best parts of myself.
I have read scientific studies that show that “meditation can bring about significant physiological changes in the brain that create welcome changes in health, mood, and behavior. Meditation can even improve the capacity to process rapidly arriving incoming information.”
So what’s stopping me? Why does the outcome of meditation attract me but the actual act of practicing it for 20 minutes or even 5 minutes, seems unbearable? Here are all those excuses: It’s too late in the evening, too early in the morning, there’s no really private place to go, there will be too many interruptions, I’m too busy, I’m expecting a phone call, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’m too full, I’m uncomfortable on the floor, the pillow is too soft, there’s dust on the floor, the cat clearly needs petting, it’s too boring…. I think the bottom line is that actually settling down to meditate makes me feel curiously anxious and restless. It’s similar to the resistant feeling I get when I have pay bills. If I think back, the feeling is reminiscent of having to practice the piano.
At sixty something, maybe I should just give up and say, categorically, that the practice of meditation is just not for me. Maybe I should I fly to India and engage a guru. My friend tells me that joining a meditation group is the answer. I’ll check that out…tomorrow or the next day.
For my last ditch effort, I purchased Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. It may be that my anxiety/restlessness comes from waiting for something to “happen.” Paradoxically, it may feel like too much of an effort to rest quietly in a neutral space, not dependent on inside or outside changes or cues for relief. It is probably true, too, that my expectations are out of whack.
Meanwhile I’ll continue to collect books on the subject of meditation: Relaxation and Stress Reduction (Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning), Real Happiness (Sharon Salzberg), The Joy Within (Joan Goldstein & Manuela Soares), Mindfulness (Ellen Langer), Jewish Meditation (Aryeh Kaplan)