February 27, 2014

A (almost) Retrospective

Day twenty-seven of our monthlong challengeMax Zahn

February is Meditation Month! The Tricycle team members have challenged ourselves—and our readers—to meditate every day and blog about our experiences. We needed a little help, so we called in bestselling author and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg to lead our meditation-themed retreat this month and speak to us on how to incorporate meditation practice into the workplace. We’re also featuring three meditation e-books: Tricycle Teachings: MeditationTricycle Teachings: Meditation, Vol. 2, and Tricycle Teachings: Commit to Sit. Last but certainly not least, back by popular demand is Brad Warner, known this month as our Meditation Doctor, here to answer any questions we have about our personal practice.

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Alas, the end of meditation month is nigh. And I must say, the feelings on this end are mixed. I mean, we’ve been through a lot together these 27 days. One afternoon I’ll be sitting quietly and the next morning I’ll be, well, sitting quietly again. Same goes for you all, I assume, unless of course you’re secretly blaring Kid Rock as you perform a country-alternative concert in your head. (In which case, no judgment, but you might want to
send a note to our meditation doctor in these precious remaining hours.)

What the daily routine might have lacked in narrative arc, it gained in camaraderie. I drew comfort from knowing that fellow Tricycle staff members and readers were also pressing “pause” for a few minutes each day. The incomparable Mary Oliver opens her poem “Invitation” with just that—a big ol’ invitation:

     Oh, do you have time
     to linger
     for just a little while
     out of your busy and very important day

All you other meditation month participants have made it easier for me to find that time to linger, at least for a little while. Thank you.

Meanwhile, reading Emma's and Joanna's reports from the cushion have helped bring perspective to my own difficulty in lingering even when I try to linger. I need to constantly remind myself that it takes practice to relax. Of course I want slow down . . . but how much do I really want to slow down? The New York state of mind is a restless one, and the syndrome can only be contained, not cured. That concession doesn’t necessarily engender a lazy, excuse-laden practice, but a humble one.

So, fare thee well. It has been a privilege to write about my meditations. Sure, I blame the pressure to construct an authorial conceit as cause for my ill-advised commitment to nightly meditation [LINK], but so be it. Full disclosure: I gave up the pledge six days later. Mornings are just better for me. At night I’m always really tired. And it sucks to meditate when you’re really tired. See, we’re learning here.

And the lessons will continue, even after tomorrow when Meditation Month ends. Let’s not forget that Sharon has an invitation of her own. It’s the teaching of hers for which I’m most thankful, because with her the emphasis is always on the opportunity to get back on the cushion, without judgment or hesitation. Just sitting. Maybe with some light Kid Rock in the background.

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