Why do I meditate? Why did I start to meditate?
Two very different questions. As a young woman I needed something that felt intimate and uniquely me, some way to foster a relationship with who I was and who I hoped I might become. I suppose that I ask those same questions now, twenty five years later. Only now I have walked with life long enough that I have shaped my own dreams, wrestled with sorrow, befriended ambiguity and grown extremely patient. Meditation teaches me to be patient; to wait, watch, and to witness the stories around and within me with loving kindness. We are all doing the best we can with what we have!
When I take my seat I know that my mind will wander. I know that my breath will soften, that my back will most likely round and that I may gently water the wilting body with my attention. I know that each practice will have its seasons. And I know that over time I have cultivated the ability to focus and to accept that I have a lifetime to learn. A lifetime to learn… and to accept things as they are.
“All forms of meditation strengthen and direct our attention through the cultivation of three key skills: concentration, mindfulness, and compassion or lovingkindness.” Sharon Salzberg
Attention means we take heed of something, we care, we respect, we attend to the nature of our focus. Concentration helps train the mind to focus. There are so many distractions, both inside and out, that it takes a concerted effort to will ourselves to stay tuned in. Distractions are a turning away from what we care about, they waste energy. Tuning in is satisfying, it is means that we are showing up for what we care about.
Mindfulness is wide. It is wise. And it is like white noise that takes in everything equally, without judgment, preferences or prejudices. And as the nature of things is constantly changing, we cultivate the ability to stay present in the moment; neither pushing something away that we think is unpleasant or craving for something else. Being fully present, mindful, means we care. And when we care, we are in touch with the goodness in ourselves, with lovingkindness.
That is why I meditate.