Meditation: The Struggle

I am not I.

I am this one

Walking beside me whom I do not see,

Whom at times I manage to visit,

And at other times I forget.

The one who remains silent when I talk,

The one for forgives, sweet, when I hate,

The one who takes a walk when I am indoors,

The one who will remain standing when I die.

-Juan Ramon Jimenez

When I first began meditating, I thought the goal and method were both to completely clear my mind of all thoughts, feeling and images.  That in the empty space I would find peace, pleasure and enlightenment.

Do you know how incredibly difficult this is?!

It was impossible for me.  My mind wanted everything, anything, except to be still.  The more I struggled to control it, to silence it, the more slippery and seductive it became.  It would silently entertain me with pleasant memories, shock me with sudden remembrance of a problem at hand, and even just chatter away in a seemingly legitimate narrative, “My mind is empty right now.  I am thinking of nothing. I am pretty darn good at this.  It’s easier than I thought.  I wonder why people work so hard at learning to meditate.  I am just sitting here, having no thoughts whatsoever….hey, wait!”

I was not very successful.  So I didn’t meditate very often.  So I did not become any more successful.

Later, I realized that the mind does better with something to focus on, and that this focus was key to beginning meditation.  It was suggested that I focus on breath.  Again, without much specific instruction.  So it went something like this…

“In…out…in out..okay, I’m breathing, this is kind of boring…I wonder what I should make for dinner…oh wait, in…out…in…out…maybe spaghetti…?…”

Even later I learned to really focus on my breath.  Specifically, the feel of the air entering my nostrils, inflating my lungs fully, all the way down to my core, and then exhaling, pushing it back out like a french press in reverse, the air warmers as it exited.  And counting each breath…in…1…out…1…in…2…out…2…

This focus allowed my mind something to do, but still allowed clearness.  The counting kept me honest because if I lost count, I knew my mind had wandered.

Later I would focus on a candle, a mantra, an image that became three-dimensional in my mind.  All with much better success.

And then I began to become aware of the I that is not I…

(to be continued)

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