Are you feeling stuck? Maybe you’re meditating a few minutes a day, and it seems like it isn’t enough, and you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Maybe you’re even feeling as if all this meditation is dredging up some really scary, heavy thoughts that you aren’t sure how to deal with. Don’t panic- let’s back up a bit and talk about what you can do next.
Here is where our three questions from last week really come in handy. Look at the questions again, take a deep breath, and think a bit about your answers.
There are a lot of reasons why you might not be able to meditate as much as you would like to. The first thing to consider is so simple that it’s almost ridiculous. It’s…drum roll, please…
LOGISTICS. Even though a lot of the chronic pain and stress of daily life is rooted in mental or spiritual issues, it’s so important to address these things on a very actionable level. And that means talking about the nitty-gritty of your every day schedule. In a lot of ways, it’s easy for me to talk about meditation and yoga- I’m a bachelor, so I don’t have a spouse or kids who require my attention. I work as an LMT, so any kind of yoga or meditation retreat I do is really just an extension of my professional life. I have the luxury of time and some disposable income, so I can travel. Even as I write this, I’m in Guatemala- Lucky Me!
But let’s look at a potential example- Mike. Mike works in real estate, has three school age kids. He also has clients and buyers contacting him on off hours, so he feels as if he is “on call” even when he is not necessarily at his place of work. Through mindfulness, Mike has learned to recognize when “work thoughts” creep into his consciousness, which is great, BUT because…
-He puts in at least 50 hours a week at the office.
-He has to pick up the kids from school.
-He gets calls and emails that can make or break a sale at all hours of the day.
He finds that he can only really meditate for about 5 minutes per day. He’s interested in the practice of it, but the anxiety of leaving the phone off for longer than that is just too much for him for now. It’s OK! Maybe Mike’s life circumstances aren’t allowing him to even take classes or go on a weekend retreat right now- but he can set aside some time in the evening to take an online class!
Online classes are great for people who are just starting out and/or have very busy schedules that require they stay close to home.
I did a wonderful 6 month, by-donation online course from the Buddhist teachers Thanissara and Kittisaro who lead the Dharmagiri Insight Meditation Centre based in South Africa. They give you weekly meditation assignments, audio downloads, and texts which are yours to keep and offer Skype meetings where you can correspond with the instructors and ask questions.
The key, as always, is to stick with your practices, with the understanding that
A) Your life circumstances may change some day, and you may find more time to devote to your practces
B) Even if you’re simply practicing 5 minutes a day…SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING!
Thanks again for reading, I’m sure we’ll talk more in the future about advanced practices, classes and longer retreats. I’ve been to a few myself now, and I can say that there are as many ways of teaching as there are teachers. The journey is a process, and the journey is all there is, so enjoy it, learn well and be well!