In all my years of practice, I have found meditation to be the most challenging and frustrating.
I would find my mind wandering and then get angry with myself for letting it wander and that would then spiral into a conversation of ‘don’t be angry, just let it pass through like clouds in the sky’. That would then turn into ‘I wonder what shape that cloud would be, maybe a dinosaur, I love dinosaurs, brontosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, tyrannosaurus…… Oh shit, I’m really bad at meditation, clouds, clouds….pterodactyl, how could I forget about the pterodactyl?”
Anyway. About a year ago, I gave up on my meditation practice and started a gratitude practice. For 10 minutes just after I wake up, I close my eyes and think of the things that I am grateful for. Starting with my body and health. I say a thank you to my heart for beating and my lungs for breathing. This goes on to all my organs, my blood, my bones and muscles. Then the gratitude goes out to people and animals in my life. Finally the situations, obstacles or challenges that I am currently dealing with.
Eventually…. Eventually, for a few seconds, the stillness embraces me like a warm and familiar cloak or like a big hug from behind. Then come the waves of emotion so overwhelming it makes me a little nauseous, but if I breath and let those waves keep coming, the stillness comes back and lingers for a while.
This, for me, is my meditation practice. This is my hallelujah point of knowing that a lot of my personal growth has happened in my dark times. And in knowing and experiencing the lessons learned from my most challenging times, I now welcome them in for they are valid and beautiful and complex.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
― Mary Oliver