I returned last night from a week-long Metta meditation retreat at Insight Meditation Society led by Sharon Salzberg, Gina Sharpe and Mark Coleman. For seven days, we simply did sitting and walking meditation in 45 minute sessions for 12 hours a day, in silence, the only breaks for meals and teachers' instructions and talks. Some days it was difficult, and some days it was emotional and exhausting. But overall it was grounding and peaceful and when it finished, I didn't want to leave. So I'm a bit surprised to find that today, only 24 hours after arriving back at home, meditation practice is much the same as it's often been for me: something to be checked off of my to-do list.
Though I practice everyday, often it's another chore have to get done, like brushing my teeth or washing the dishes or going to the Post Office. Sometimes in the middle of a sitting, I'll wonder why it's not over yet and start planning what I'll be doing right after it ends. And sometimes I'll procrastinate, preferring to do other things before meditation. This afternoon, when I noticed how eager I was for my sit to end, I had to laugh -- I had nothing pressing that needed to be done, so what was I so eager to do? Watch YouTube? Read a book? Facebook? Text message?
I realized it's important to find ways to keep my practice fresh, by incorporating walking meditation at home, and participating more in meditation groups and public sittings. And I'm going to start planning for another retreat. The 45 minutes of sitting in my apartment seems a lot longer than it did in a silent meditation hall with 99 other people.
- Kimberly Brown