Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Imperfect Practice

I sit on my purple cushion at sunrise. I do it everyday, without fail. Though it takes discipline, it is a necessity. I need meditation to maintain a semblance of balance. Things get pretty out of whack when I don't get to my cushion.
My capability of actual meditation, now that's something else altogether! It's not what usually happens. Cuticle picking, spacing out, trying to remember my dreams or simply falling back asleep on my yoga mat in child's pose are all regular occurrences. And yet somehow I manage to climb onto that cushion, reach for my zazen app every morning, and tap the screen to start my practice.
I close my eyes, and concentrate on the moment. In Raja yoga, it's called Dharana. Number six of Patanjali's eight limbs of classical yoga, Dharana is defined as "uninterrupted concentration," and it is the step that comes before Dhyana, which is defined as actual meditation. I may call my morning practice meditation, but technically, Dharana is as far as I get. After all these years of practice- according to classical yoga-  I may have actually meditated only two or three times, go figure.

And still, I'm comforted by this refuge from my thoughts, and I intend to enjoy it. I listen. Birds, jungle sounds, the whirr of the fan in our room. From listening I turn my attention to my body. I'm warm. Starting with my head I feel into the subtle sensations all over- tickles, achy muscles, the pressure of gravity. Inevitably, I notice tension. Relax, I remind myself. I wiggle my jaw, and soften my face. Back to listening.

There are loud crickets out this morning, I hear the road in the distance. I need to call that place today, and email that lady about the man. Once I get his contact information I will set up and appointment and...hey! I am sitting here to meditate! Breath, sounds, body scan. My right elbow itches, my toes feel cold. I adjust my posture. Deep breath. I can do this! I am staying with the moment now. Seeing the orange light behind my closed eyes, I listen.

The sounds are changing, a new bird call echoes out, one I have not heard before. I will have  to use that cauliflower today or its going to go bad. I'll make the soup this morning- put on some cooking music, start chopping garlic, fresh ginger, and.....are we out of garlic? Shoot, we might be. I won't have time to walk to the market. I can't make that soup without fresh garlic. Arg. Well, if the cauliflower goes bad at least I supported the farmers market...once again it's....

Hey! Wake up girlfriend! I adjust my posture, inhale deeply and listen to the whirr of the fan. I relax. This is what its all about- this moment of waking up. The cycle repeats, again and again, until eventually, the bell rings. Monkey mind is free! This is why it's called a practice.

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