This morning I challenged myself to a 40 minute sit. I know if we are following Sharon’s book, we need only sit for 20 minutes, 3 times this week, but I have never followed directions particularly well. And years of therapy, meditation, karate and more have finally put me at ease with my slightly renegade response to structure. (I try to hold my rebellious nature not too tightly, not too loosely.)
The 40 minute mark is magic for me. And not just in meditation. I have noticed it in a karate class, while hiking, working on a project, and in just about any situation where breath is key. Although, breath is key every minute of our life, isn’t it?
What I’ve noticed particularly is that after 40 minutes of real breathing, I find myself engaged, at ease, with a heightened sense of awareness. Anxiety, anticipation, boredom? They all fall away. Some call it the state of flow, popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. In it, he explores the idea that people are most happy when completely absorbed in the activity at hand. Is our meditation practice an activity, or a non-activity? I wonder. But not too hard.
This morning, I gratefully stay with my breath past the tornado of thoughts, and into the stillness of being aware of the noises surrounding me, the twinges in my body, and the possibility of thoughts arising from some unknown underground spring. But none of this distracts me. Thoughts seem only to begin to bubble without actually taking form. Then, I have a moment of insight that just about knocks me out of my groove, an association that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. But surprisingly I don’t cling or over think it, but smile and gently release.
I close my practice again today with lovingkindness. The people of Egypt are in my thoughts and my heart. Rebellion, on this scale is scary, unsettling. May it be for the greater good.