Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meditation Update


I have read and thought about all the comments on meditating left after my Monday post. I am touched by the effort people have put into this. Many of the comments are lengthy and some, like those of Nollyposh, have spilled over into discussions on other blogs.

The comments reveal the vast range of meditative techniques, some of the comments refine the suggestions made in the video, some are more deeply religious than others, Reya was concerned about my starting a meditative practice during times of high stress.

"Based on three decades of practice," she writes, "I believe that right now it might be hard to begin what I think of (still) as a very rigorous practice."

Hen suggested I set more modest goals for myself. She suggested I try meditating for only 5 minutes in the beginning.

Two Flights Down echos the comments of many when she writes-- "What method you up to you. There's really no wrong way--it's that objective of 'being' that, really, you need to aim for. Some methods may work for you, others may not. You may even find your own method--you may already have."

Most seriously urge me not to try this on my own but to seek out a teacher instead. I would like to, but the erratic scheduling of medical appointments at distant Princess Margaret Hospital make it impossible for me to keep to any schedule. Plus, I have no idea how physically able I will be to commit to anything once I begin chemo and radiation.

Maybe later I will seek out more formal instruction.

Some get the feeling from my posts that I have already been informally meditating all my life. They get a meditative feel from the posts about my taking Lindsay for a run along the top of the bluffs.

To support my sister-in-law who has MS, Linda and I did take yoga classes for over ten years and they did have a ten minute guided meditation at the end. But that was over a quarter of a century ago. And, in truth, I was not a very good yoga student, as stiff and awkward after a decade as I was in the beginning. But I totally got that meditation part at the end.

One woman, with years of meditative practice behind her, wrote privately, "Think of meditating in the morning like a composer setting the key for a piece of music. The notes may rise and fall, but they do that within the key the composer has set at the beginning of the music. With meditation your day will have all the ups and downs it always had, but meditating will set it in a more peaceful key right from the very beginning."

So on Wednesday morning I sat here in the quiet of my living room, eyes closed, and noticed my breath, my stomach rising and falling. I named my distractions as they came, until they faded. I worried about the passage of time and named it until it faded.

Until I became as quiet as the room and almost as peaceful.

I opened my eyes at the end of an eternity, to find that only four minutes had passed. But I had touched the outer edges of a deeper peace and found a new beginning.

I was encouraged.

That night I sat again, watching my stomach rising and falling and awoke a hour later. I'd fallen asleep. On Thursday, the morning meditation lasted the full five minutes; but during the evening one, I fell asleep again.

Yesterday I moved the time of the evening meditation up to six o'clock. No sooner had I begun than the phone rang. I tried again and Lindsay wanted out. I tried again and my brother John and his wife arrived, unexpectedly, to see how I was doing.

Not well, in the evening, I thought. I'm finding an 8 to 10 minute meditation in the morning, is no problem. But meditating at night will require a whole new strategy.