Sunday, October 3, 2010

When Conditions Aren't Perfect

There was a time in my meditation practice when I couldn't do it unless I had everything in my environment just right. I had to be in the right place with the right sitting cushion. The temperature had to be just right. There couldn't be much noise around me or other distractions.

When I began teaching, I would find myself getting upset if I was leading a meditation and there was any kind of noise from outside. Because of my need to have everything perfect, I was projecting that need onto my students, fearing that the noise was upsetting them as well.

Now, when I am practicing by myself, or when I am leading a practice, I welcome the imperfect in all its many forms. I have grown quite fond of meditating in the noisiest places I can find. Airport or airplanes are particular favorites. These days, when the Athens Disposal Company truck arrives in the alley behind the yoga studio where we meditate on Thursday mornings, I welcome the sound. I know that it will give me and my students an object toward which to turn in order to see clearly the way we habitually greet these kinds of experiences. This insight can serve us later when faced with daily life situations and we have the opportunity to experience these reactive states in real time. It may mean the difference between reacting mindlessly, and responding skillfully.


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