Category Archives: Meditation

Practicing

I have been practicing meditation for the past several years, beginning at a time when arthritis was ravaging my hip and sitting helped me be with the pain even as I was getting help. Now, it is part of what I do each day, usually first thing in the morning. I sit and know that I am sitting…at least for a few seconds at a time. While I have gotten better at focusing, I still find myself losing awareness of the present, my mind taking me to the past most often, generally reliving the negative events that have turned into stories.

Recognizing the patterns and learning to stop the stories from carrying me down the well-worn paths of critical self-talk is getting easier the more I practice. That word practice is essential. I don’t meditate. I practice meditation. That sense of working towards but never reaching whatever the end of practicing is (perfection? Please, no.) to be incredibly refreshing, a departure from my usual need to always get it right, which leads to more of that critical self-talk.

Lately, I have found myself practicing this present awareness even when I am not formally sitting. I folded the laundry with some level of mindfulness the other day. Normally, I rush through this mundane chore in order to get to the next thing. At that moment, folding the laundry was the thing and the next one could just wait its turn.

I’ve also been exploring different ways that people talk about practicing. I meant to share this interview with the Indigo Girls on Monday for International Women’s Day as their wonderful song Closer to Fine has been a part of my soundtrack since it was first published. They talk about practice and honing our skills, particularly as women.

Finding Space

Today, I announced to a large group of state leaders that I am a daily meditator and that lessons I was learning from that practice were helping me think deeper and ask different questions. I didn’t intend to do it, but I’m also not beating myself up about it. In fact, I encouraged them to read Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Change that I referenced in my previous post.

The book is a guide to making change, written almost specifically for the people in that meeting: advocates and activists who have committed to creating an equitable, accessible, innovative public education system. It is hard work, demanding, and can be all consuming. How can you take a break when you see so much need, when you feel angry and frustrated?

Salzberg argues, and I can speak from personal experience, even a few minutes of meditation each day has helped me find a space within the work where I can rest and then return refreshed. It sharpens my focus and allows me to gauge my reactions in a more thoughtful way.

When I open my eyes after practicing and look out on the world, I know it is the same broken place, I feel the familiar anger, but I also feel as though I have more courage to keep moving forward even as I accept the current circumstances.