I Did It On An Airplane
And, I’ve done it in a church.
I did it once in high school, and once with a group in college.
I’ve done it in Italy. I’ve done it in Romania. And, I’ve done it a couple of times in India with strangers.
We’ve done it in her house. I’ve done it at my parent's house. I’ve even done it in my parent's bathroom.
I’ve done it with my mom. I’ve seen other people do it with their mom too.
I did it once in a public restroom, and then once publicly at a party.
I’ve even done it in Sweetgreen.
I did it with Jesse Israel in Fenway Park. And, I’ve also done it and never told anyone I was doing it.
A ritual is a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Meditation is a daily ritual of mine.
I first dipped my toes in the kiddie pool of meditation in 2016 when living in Italy, after watching Eat.Pray.Love, with the help of a meditation app. Inspired by several days of 10-minute sits, I found an opportunity to visit India that spring thinking I would dive deeper into my practice. I didn’t. I returned to meditation in the winter of 2017 during days of 16-hour airplane mode binges and attempts at sobriety. I would sit on a beige Mexican blanket with my hands woven together in my lap at 6:10 am as my tea brewed and cooled, before commuting into Cambridge for work. Today, I sit outside each morning as my tea brews and cools, just not as early.
I don’t meditate to be more “productive”. And I don’t meditate to incorrectly learn to live with stress rather than confront its origins. I meditate to speak to myself each day with love. I meditate to be more efficient and focused with my time. I meditate as a means of igniting creativity. I also meditate to activate my parasympathetic system.
I write you with a new vocabulary and technique, learned last week during a workshop with Jesse Israel of The Big Quiet. I learned I did not have a kind practice. I was previously educated on the importance of remaining completely still and forcing out the unwelcome thoughts during a practice. Now, I extend a welcome mat.
During a sit, if my leg falls asleep, I need to sniffle or itch my finger. I will, while keeping my mantra or at least recognizing that I have distanced myself from it and gently return to it: Aham.
Having a forgiving practice is critical to the sustainability of my meditation practice.
In meditation, I rarely seek instant gratification. I do not exit a sit and stand discouraged that I am still dreading a conversation that afternoon. What meditation does for me, however, is encourages me to confront why I am dreading that conversation. Having now kept a consistent meditation practice for the past 2 years, I recognize the benefits I am compounding by investing in myself daily. To be completely candid, on days I do not meditate I am more irritable, less patient, less compassionate, and am an unintentional eater. I even observe this form of myself beginning 10 hours after a sit which is now motivating me to commit to a more consistent afternoon practice. But even with that education on who I become, my practice encourages me not to punish myself as if I am failing, but rather celebrate that I am investing in myself and offer an incentive to develop my practice.
The secret benefits of my practice will remain with me, not in an attempt to rob the reader but to shield them from any competition. Outcomes from an individual practice are unique to the individual and I do not want to set unfair expectations nor soil your celebrations.
Consider this piece nothing more than a referral on meditation's behalf.
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