Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meditation Breakthrough

Earlier today I was about to go into a negotiation, and I was anxious and excited about it. My adrenalin was pumping and my mind constantly running different versions of the approaching scenario. I decided to meditate for a few minutes to settle myself. As I began scanning my body, surveying inch by inch and registering the sensations, I recognized that I was anticipating the calm I was after as much as I was experiencing the agitation of the moment. I was getting ahead of myself, like when I’m late getting somewhere and find myself leaning forward as I walk, trying to hurry along my progress.

One thing meditation had taught me already is that I can’t give my full attention to two things at once. Full attention may even be an impossibility. Certainly, focus to the depth that my Vipassana meditation training has brought me goes far beyond what’s expected in other areas of my life. In fact, most of modern life actually encourages partial attention, and with the advent of the cult of multi-tasking, the more partial the better.

But attention isn’t only quantitative, and the more focused it is, the more it shifts in quality and effect. So realizing that I was splitting my attention while I meditated, trying to feel myself into a desired future state at the same time that I was ostensibly experiencing the current state, was a significant realization. All the more so because anticipation goes against the very heart of my meditation training, which is all about being present.

“Don’t try to change your breathing,” Goenkaji had said in that first lecture I attended. “Observe the breath . Is it fast or slow, deep or shallow? Just observe it. But don’t try to change it. It will change on it’s own.”

And so I stopped reaching for calm, and instead sat and allowed myself to feel the surging energy and that tingling in my core that signaled my arousal. And yes... it did change.


  1. Have you tried alternate nostril breathing? Works for me!

    Your old friend from Langdell,

    1. I've had a small taste of it in yoga class, Ray. But for once, I'm going to aim deeper instead of wider, and stick with the Vipassana method.
      Thanks, friend!

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