Years ago, a close friend who'd developed a steady meditation practice told me, "Peacefulness is easy when your life is in balance and everything is going fine. The true test comes when you face adversity."
Today, everything that had been consistent in my first three days of practice went right out the window.
Usually I wake up and turn my bedside radio to NPR and "Morning Edition"; but with my habit of meditating in the morning I didn't want to break my peaceful, silent transition from wakefulness to mindfulness. So I kept the radio off, stretched out a couple of minutes more to sleep -- and overslept by 90 minutes.
With one hour to get to an important event across town, I rationalized that I'd meditate when I got back home at 12:30.
But the event ran long, and other assorted things happened that kept me out of the house until 7 pm. After rushing back home to throw together dinner, I spent the evening doing family things and didn't have "alone time" until 11 pm.
The idea of just going to bed was appealing. I could skip today and meditate tomorrow. After all, in "Real Happiness" Sharon says that if we can fit three meditations into our first week, that's good enough. And I had done my three already.
But two things stopped me:
1) I had made the commitment to the 28 Day Challenge, and my commitment was to meditate every day
2) a reader of my previous posts, Work4Justice, had described the peacefulness that evening meditation brings as conducive to sleep. Even though my inclination is to meditate in the morning because at night my head is so full of the day, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.
So tonight I meditated in my family room, a noisier place than my silent spare bedroom. The gurgle of the fish tank, the ringing of the wind chimes on my porch, and the tick of a nearby clock were new challenges to contend with. Instead of sitting on the firm floor on my meditation pillow, I sat on a cushy couch. My brain, so fresh and empty in the morning, was tired and buzzing with the day's events.
I had many more distracting thoughts, and I followed them further than I should have. Letting go was hard -- it was like pulling burrs off a wool sweater.
Not judging how I was doing was also hard. It was different than the first three days. My critical self would say "less successful" but my accepting self is trying not to grade my "performance."
Again I meditated without a timer, closing my eyes at 11:02 and opening them at 11:23. Somehow, my internal timer at least was functioning normally.
Would I meditate again at night if I had a choice? Probably not. But a little adversity is a good cure for complacency. I'd felt smug about sticking to a morning meditation practice for three days, but it was easy to do and there hadn't been any real challenge. Tonight's sitting may not have been exactly peaceful, but it happened...and with no excuses. Some days, that's enough.