Am I asleep, or just REALLY good at meditating?


I just tried the Body Scan Meditation for the first time. That was relaxing. I thought I was really in the zone until my legs jerked and I realized I was in the middle of a dream where I was changing the light bulb in the bathroom and fell off the ladder.

In the moments between dozing, I really liked thinking about the way my body felt without assigning value to it. An itch on my head, my hands going cold as they fell asleep at my sides. I tried to think of these not as sensations to do anything about, just to pay attention to. As I reflect now, it makes me feel sad for all those little physical feelings we rush to alleviate without examining first. Like we’re the parent, and the sensation is the child we’re shoveling food into or shuttling to piano lessons without pausing to ask, who are you? What are you all about? A disclaimer: I watched three episodes of In Treatment before meditating. One of Gabriel Byrne’s patients is going through a divorce and the whole struggle is really starting to permeate my analogies.

 There is one difficulty I am still struggling with, both theoretically and during actual sits. Meditation continues to be tangled up in my mind with achievement. As I reread Sharon’s book and as I seek out more seasoned meditators to talk about the practice’s benefits, the pitch seems to be about what you get if you do it right. A good meditator will be more present, more mindful, more compassionate, more capable of learning and managing stress. All of these sound like incredible gifts. But when I think of what I can gain if I observe this practice, I also think of what I fail to gain if I am not diligent or skillful, if I somehow do it wrong. Have scientists ever studied the short-term benefits of meditation in the brains of people who enjoyed it versus people who really struggled? Do those who struggle reap just as much?

I am beginning to realize how much I like fleshing out the reasons for not doing something before resigning myself to actually doing it. Kind of seems like a lot of wasted energy.  

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Feb 1, 2011    5 comments

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