Meditating On Your Own

In this blog I reflect upon initiating a daily discipline of free-form writing because I think it parallels challenges you might experience starting an on-going, independent practice of Recollective Awareness Meditation. Excerpts from my free-form writing journal are in italics.

I want to write, this blog and other articles about meditation. Writing is hard for me. If I was to start and stick with a daily writing practice it’ll take a significant amount of time and focus, my life would start to revolve around it. My sense of self would start to change and also maybe the relationships that mattered. I would spend my time differently and would have to drop some of the things that fill my time. Though maybe it’s not so much the time, though that is an issue… but the sense of self, the sense of what matters, my identity that would change. I think I face some of the same challenges my students face initiating an independent meditation practice.

I looked for resources to support my intention and to jump start my writing. I tried an on-line writing course, it didn’t fit my needs and disposition so I dropped it. I started reading books on writing and writing instructors seemed to agree that regular/ongoing free-form writing was the way to go. I committed to writing 10 minutes a day; that seemed doable. But I was full of doubt, what if I can’t pull this off? Wow that seems so dramatic, I guess I can’t know unless I give it a substantial try. I remind myself that I’m not trying to become a famous writer, just write some blogs.

Let’s look at the parallels. It is hard to change habits and integrate a new practice, one that is creative and potentially challenging. It entails change while the law of inertia is at play “a body at rest will tend to stay at rest.” Consider your motivations for meditating; keep them in mind. Likely you will try out different supports and structures till you find a fit, then adapt as conditions in your life change. It is helpful to consider the suggestions of others who have established a regular practice; they’ll offer structures that you can try out.

Regularity and commitment might help, short-circuiting debilitating doubt and the incessant questioning of “should I or shouldn’t I?” though, at times, commitment is accompanied by depleting guilt. Jason Siff begins his book Unlearning Meditation with “meditators guilt”. How then to find ways to gently yet firmly self- motivate?

I looked into my high ideals about writing and settled into realistic expectations, writing a regular blog is enough for now. Meditation is fraught with the highest of expectations, “enlightenment”. Consider your expectations. At the start, might it be enough to learn a bit more about your inner world and becoming a little gentler with yourself?

Can I become a good writer? It’s a real leap of faith. Can I do this? Is this reserved for others, but not for me? If I step off into new territory I don’t know where it will lead. What if my mind is a “minefield”, full of danger. Thank you, I will stick with the life that I know. If I seriously commit to this and don’t do it… I risk feeling bad about it and bad about myself. Though actually I am becoming attached to this writing time, in a good way. I like the grounding of the structure and the inspiration when new ideas pop out.

The practice will change you, if you take on a practice that goes deep it will change your identity and sense of self. We want this and recoil from it. Until you experience the benefits of regular meditation; committing time and resolve is a leap of faith. Others might tell you how great is but you don’t know for yourself. And sometimes meditation won’t be great; it will be boring, confusing, grueling and many other things you don’t want. But I believe that the overall direction will be onward leading though I don’t know how long it will that take before you know this for yourself.

In the book I am reading the writing instructor speaks of “blank page phobia”. Recollective Awareness has few instructions, so it can intimidate like a blank page does to the writer. But after a while the wild terrain of your meditation becomes more known to you and the journey has a life of its own. You start following what interests you. You become familiar with how you meditate and find value in it. The terrain of your meditation is no longer “blank”.

I am available to be a companion and support on your meditative journey, during group events and individual sessions. Let me know how I can be of help.

Comments

  1. Teresa Baker said:

    Thanks for this piece. Appreciate parallel between daily writing and daily meditation. In my life, parallel is between daily musical practice and daily meditation. When possible, I meet and play music with like-minded players but also when possible attend intensive get-togethers (say, a week out of town). A master musician at a recent intensive clarified the distinction between “learning” and “practice.” We meet together to learn but then need to go back–alone–and practice–alone–to refine our understanding of what we’ve learned. And yes, finding time to practice is a constant challenge. But I do it because I’ve experienced the rewards of regular music practice. Haven’t yet experienced the rewards of regular meditation, but this permission (or perhaps invitation is a better word) to “practice on your own” has removed a (perceived) hindrance–the mandate of going somewhere to practice with others. Also clarifies the benefit of deeper focus with a teacher as those opportunities arise. Again, thanks. TCB

  2. Vince said:

    I like the idea of this free form meditation practice, but I don’t like the idea of writing about it afterwards. It feels too analytical for me. Is that a ‘requirement’ of the practice?

  3. Vince, there is no “requirement” to journal, though for many people it is a good way to become more aware and reflective about what occurs during a meditation sitting. Alternatively you could take a few moment after your meditation sitting to remember what happened. I suggest that journaling be descriptive. The direction here is more awareness rather than more analysis.

  4. Lori Cohen said:

    How about integrating a day into a schedule on the calendar? I am starting out with doing a Sunday for 30 minutes, then a little writing, then reading a blog, in addition to Wednesdays at night. I am thinking this would be a good way to start the week (like attending a church each week..) I do so many things competing for my time that I’m thinking that integrating slowly might work. Once this day is a habit, add another.. Your thoughts?

  5. Nani said:

    The “terrain” of my meditations for the past two weeks has been winding and bumpy, where I am navigating through the details of my life that my mind is throwing up constantly in the road in front of me. My meditations feel like Mr. Toad’s wild ride, without the creativity and adventure; more like Mr. Toad’s neurotic ride through a 3-D version of his to-do lists. Why am I so busy? Why do I feel compelled to get so much accomplished? How can I find time to do the things that are important to me if I spend all my hours taking care of urgent or otherwise “important” tasks?

    So what stands out for me in your piece, Nelly, is the idea of how we might change as a result of committing ourselves to something, and how we are both drawn toward that change, and recoil from it both. I want to have time to read more, to write more, to be outside more; so why do I take that extra job, or commit to that additional volunteer “opportunity,” or say yes to another social event?

    My meditations are a reflection of my outer life. Too many obstacles for the smooth sailing through creativity and imagination, wonder and pondering, reflections on beauty. What is it that keeps me from eliminating the hazards in the road, or at least minimizing them, so that I can steer around them calmly, rather than be in a constant state of vigilance, sure that I have forgotten something?

    Thanks for planting a seed…..
    Nani