Just Sit. That is my goal for this challenge. To just sit and follow the meditations and see what happens. So often I find we (or at least I) get caught up in making progress, accomplishing a goal, that we miss the whole point of practice. Like if I just buckle down, grit my teeth, and push through as hard as I can, I’ll reach enlightenment faster. When my daughter was being born I remember my midwife at one point saying “Okay on this next contraction I want you to get angry”. While I understood, even in that moment, what she was trying to do, how she was trying to motivate me, I couldn’t help also thinking, “I don’t know if that the emotion I want to bring my daughter into the world.” Likewise, I don’t think frustration, escapism, or striving towards some external goal should be what motivates me to practice. When we get caught in this kind of thinking we waste so much energy focusing on how far we have to go, rather than how far we’ve come, or even how we are now, how our practice is benefiting us right now. I know that I for one am really good at making plans and getting hyped up about them, only to lose momentum after only a short time when I don’t see great leaps in progress as quickly as I’d like. I read somewhere (I think it was Jack Kornfield, but I’m not 100% sure) the line “act beautifully without attachment to results” and I think this really sums it up nicely. Pour all of your love and attention into this moment, acting to the best of your ability in this single moment, without worrying about future moments. In our first meditation Sharon repeatedly says “It’s just one breath”. Just take that one breath, as consciously as you can, without worrying about the last one you took, or the one you’re going to take next. When you get a handle on the present moment, your past and future will fall into place. There’s the practice in Buddhism of dedicating the merit you generate through practice to others (or I guess you could dedicate it to anything but in Mahayana Buddhism the point is to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings). Similarly (though I can’t remember where I read this) is the practice of dedicating your future enlightenment to others. If you accept the premise of infinite lifetimes, than logically anything that can happen, will happen, which includes each of us reaching full enlightenment. So dedicating the future enlightenment you know you will attain eventually is a powerful practice for us laypeople with worldly obligations (I for example, a mother of young children, working for minimum wage) who can’t always practice as much as we’d like. We take each moment when we can, and practice slowly, deliberately. Just one moment, just one breath, at a time.
There’s this Buddhist prayer that says “As long as space remains, as long as sentient beings remain, so too will I remain, and dispel the miseries of the world.” I love this because I often translate it into something like “if I’m going to be standing here holding the door to enlightenment for every sentient being, I may as well get comfortable and not worry about how long it takes.” Or to use a workplace analogy; “If I’m going to be here til close, I may as well take my time and do a good job, rather than try to rush and get out early.”
So that’s my goal for this challenge; to sit, consciously, deliberately, without worrying about where it goes and just see what happens. Maybe I’ll blog every day, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have some great insights, maybe I won’t. Let’s just focusing on sitting for the present moment, just this one moment, just this one breath.