So yesterday I meditated twice - once in the morning after reading some of the book, which was very nice. I noticed that almost every time a thought distracted me, it had to do with whether or not I was doing this well. Hm. Interesting.
That evening, I attended my weekly Insight Meditation group. The instruction was to focus on the breath. A previous teaching had invited us to feel as if the whole body was breathing. I liked it.
Then I had a hot flash. No! This feels awful! How am I supposed to meditate when I feel so wretched??? I haven't had a flash this extreme in so long!!! Aaaak!
Whoa. Focus on the sensations. I did. I let my attention rest lightly on the sensation of each pore in my face, tingling and opening, one at a time, each one releasing one tiny, itchy, microdrop of sweat. I noticed that many such microdrops collected on the skin of my neck, creating an itchy, claustrophobic sensation under my turtleneck. I noticed the gradual evaporation of each microdrop on my face, leaving a teeny, itchy bit of salt on my skin. I noticed the the tingling, and the eventual cooling of my whole hot self. I noticed enormous gratitude and pride. Pride? Whoops. Oh well. Still, cool; it's true what they say. Everything changes. Back to the breath.
25 minutes in, I wanted to run screaming from the room. I forgot to let my attention rest lightly on anything. My attention was busy tensing every muscle to keep me glued to the chair. Eventually the blessed chime came that we were finished.
I'm pretty sure that chime is supposed to sound serene, or sacred or something. It's probably not supposed to sound like a release from purgatory.