Daily practice. My teacher, Anyen Rinpoche, is always reminding us of how important this is. Along with cultivating bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment and the aspiration to help all beings, he tells us it is the foundation of the Buddhist path. Without either of these things, we are just pretending.
It makes sense, though. Meditation is a skill that is not easily mastered. Any progress that we hope to make with it takes consistent practice over a long period of time. But this is not always an easy thing for us to accept, we who live in a culture that is constantly demanding instant and obvious results.
“Learn to meditate like a monk in ten minutes!” claims one Facebook ad.
And besides, who really has the extra time to set aside for just sitting on our butts? We have full time jobs (or two!), families, medical emergencies, bills, kids in college and blogs to write. How can we possibly find even five minutes of quiet in the never-ending rush of American life?
We all know the answer to this. The truth is, the time is available to us if we want it to be. Five minutes a day. Even less if that sounds like too much.
I started out meditating three minutes a day. That was all I could take. I would sit there on my makeshift cushion, a scrunched up bed pillow, and within ninety seconds I was pouring little beads of sweat from holding up that crushing weight of doing “nothing”. It was only little by little that I learned to just let myself be.
I’m not saying that I’m some great meditator. More often, I feel like a terrible one. All I do know is that sticking with it over the past three and a half years has yielded at least some good results. Sure, I’m able to sit for longer periods time but more importantly, it gives me something positive to focus my energy on, something healthy and worthwhile. Not only has it brought more peace and calm into my life but it’s also been a huge part of my staying sober.
And that’s the thing: we have to find a reason to meditate at first. It has to make sense to us. It has to be important enough for us so that we do set that alarm five minutes before the kids get up or the Blackberry starts vibrating. The time is there, the results will come, we just have to make that first little bit of effort.