I was surprised to get an email this week telling me I was 30 days into my meditation challenge – where has the time gone?
I have sat on my zafu for twenty minutes every morning, but Fatty has been a bit of a problem of late. I sit in lotus position and stare at the wall, and he keeps sitting between me and the wall and looking up at me, occasionally batting me gently with a paw to encourage me to shift my focus. What ARE you doing? he seems to be wondering. Stroke me instead – it’s not as if you’ve got anything better to do….
The paw-patting is endearing, and he knows it. I usually take a short break from paying attention to my breath to pay attention to my cat.
Another little quote via Daily Dharma today.
You Can Live Without It
The phenomenal world is much more fascinating and juicy when we stop grasping…wanting…craving. This is because the mind is present, the sense wide open, and the conceptual mind relaxed. We make tremendous space in our mind when we let go of this “can’t live without” desperation. And, when we discover the richness and contentment within our own mind, we find an answer to the lifelong question, “Where do I find satisfaction and contentment?”
––Dzigar Kongtrul, from Light Comes Through (Shambhala Publications)
I love that word, juicy. In other news, The Letters has been reviewed by Lori Tiron-Pandit here, and I’ve just updated my blog tour page.
Hope you all have fascinating, juicy weekends.
I’m near the beginning of a 90 day challenge to meditate for twenty minutes every day.
As you know, my brother got married at the weekend. I took my zafu with me to the hotel, and sat on Saturday morning, but on Sunday morning I went straight downstairs for my free fat-laden fried breakfast and vowed to do it when I got home.
I got home tired and hungry, and proceeded to have a tantrum about not wanting to do my meditation. I wanted to watch the telly instead. I was too tired. I wanted to enjoy my Sunday evening. My back hurt. I needed to cook something to eat.
I waited for myself to finish, and managed to drag myself to my cushion anyway. After sitting for twenty minutes, I felt much better. I had a different evening – calmer, less mushy-headed. A very little bit smug.
It reminded me again of this wonderful quote by Henepola Gunaratana from his very good book ‘Mindfulness in Plain English’. (I can NEVER get his name right when I’m trying to find the quote online again…)
“Discipline” is a difficult word for most of us. It conjures up images of somebody standing over you with a stick, telling you that you’re wrong. But self-discipline is different. It’s the skill of seeing through the hollow shouting of your own impulses and piercing their secret. They have no power over you. It’s all a show, a deception. Your urges scream and bluster at you; they cajole; they coax; they threaten; but they really carry no stick at all. You give in out of habit. You give in because you never really bother to look beyond the threat. It is all empty back there. There is only one way to learn this lesson, though. The words on this page won’t do it. But look within and watch the stuff coming up – restlessness, anxiety, impatience, pain – just watch it come up and don’t get involved. Much to your surprise, it will simply go away. It rises, it passes away. As simple as that. There is another word for self-discipline. It is patience.
I wish you patience.
My debut novel will be in the shops one week tomorrow. This could mean one of three things.
a) It will completely bomb. The shops will return all the books they ordered, people will demand their money back, and it will generally be considered as one of the worst books of all time.
b) I will sell a modest number – no more and no less than I expect to sell. I will make a little bit of money and feel reasonably satisfied.
c) It will do much better than I expect it to. I will win many glitzy prizes, appear on Richard and Judy, and be given a knighthood.
Will you think me mad if I tell you that c) is the option I’m most afraid of? That old cocaine lure of success. And so when I found The Big Sit, a 90 day meditation challenge, at Tricycle, I thought ‘that’s just what I need.’
I’ve made a vow to sit for twenty minutes every morning for the next 90 days, starting tomorrow. I’ve also vowed to eat more mindfully, to walk more, and to study a little bit of Dogen (the chap with the bald head) every week. I’m hoping this will help steady me for whatever comes next.
Will you join me? What will you give yourself over the next 90 days? Daily journal writing? Daily walks? More fruit? More fun? More time with friends or family? Anything goes, as long as it’ll be good for you (in a wholesome way – daily doughnut eating is all very well but doesn’t count as looking after yourself).
Do let me know what you’ll be doing, and we can compare notes. Let the 90 days begin! (PS you can join in whenever you like).