Meditating

I have a regular meditation practice. I’ve written about it a fair amount here.

It’s taken various forms over the last decade, but, generally speaking, I meditate for twenty minutes each morning, and for anywhere from five to sixty more minutes throughout the day. That’s not a hard-and-fast rule. I haven’t missed a day entirely in over two years, but there are days when I’ve meditated for one, two, or five minutes and no more.

This morning, I did something I haven’t done in a long time, and I realized, in so doing, that I’ve gotten a bit lazy in my practice.

When I meditate in the morning, I sit on a meditation cushion, itself, perched on a comfy armchair. I place a pillow behind my back, and I enjoy a relatively supported position. When I meditate throughout the day, I do so wherever I find myself, in whatever position I find myself. Lying, on a couch or bed; sitting, in an armchair, or on a train. Walking.

This morning (my second meditation session, a few hours after my usual twenty-minute session on my chair), I did something I haven’t done in a while: I laid out a blanket, put out my zafu, and sat. No back support. Not on a chair, but on the floor. I set my meditation timer for forty-five minutes, made myself comfortable in Burmese position, and closed my eyes.

Some years ago, I spent a solid week alternating between sitting and walking meditations, for forty-five minutes at a time, all day long, on a retreat. It was powerful. And painful. My knees, my ankles, my back, all were throbbing. My practice at the time wasn’t very developed. I couldn’t really sit still for forty-five minutes. More because of my mind than my body, though both made it hard.

Today, my body’s in different shape. I’m less fit, generally, than I was then. But I’m meditation fit. My back can be erect for a long time. My knees can be bent. And my mind can tolerate stillness. This morning I sat for forty-five minutes without so much as a twitch. It’s been a while since I’ve combined these two features of practice – posture and duration. And I forgot how… settling, clarifying, satisfying… I find a forty-five minute sit in this posture.

Sure, my mind raced. There was desire, aversion, doubt, listlessness, and maybe a little laziness – all five of the “hindrances.” And when I finished, it took a solid 90 seconds for the circulation to return to my feet, and another 90 for me to feel safe standing. (On my first meditation retreat, I stood up too fast after a forty-five-minute sit and collapsed, toppling over an entire line of meditators like dominoes.)

But man: there’s really nothing like a long sit to clear my mind.

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