February 02, 2011
As we've no doubt hammered home by now, the 28-Day Meditation Challenge has begun. Some of you have complained about too many exclamation points, so I'll try to take a calmer approach, which our daily staff meditation here in the office will no doubt support.
Today we sat after a slog to work in weather I have a hard time describing. We're not quite having rain, ice, or snow, but some kind of mix of all three. Walking to work was a fraught experience and any residual compassion I'd generated during yesterday's sit was splashed away by a truck that passed by at close range. At every corner I faced what amounted to a small lake—not quite water, not quite slush, and not quite a skating surface—each time requiring that pedestrians gather in small tentative crowds at the curb. Occasionally a push from behind left someone in the forward position with cold feet and shins, or kness if they lost their balance. The occasional slip here and there sent groups running to scoop up the unlucky fallen.
After several blocks my world had narrowed to the next slip, the next path around icy pools, continual considerations about which side of the street looked more navigable.
So it was a great day to sit. The first thought that occurred to me was how narrow my world had become in just a few blocks, and how focused on my own discomfort I'd become. I'd also sat earlier, just after I awoke this morning, and had sensed the vast potential of experience, and also, how in my case, how quickly it could disappear into a few puddles and a little weather. It also occurred to me how easy it was to return to the calm abiding of simple meditation.
In the past I might have been one of those who pushed in a crowd, or who was in too much of a hurry to help others up. That's different now, maybe also because of age (it was my birthday yesterday and it's clear to me that yeah, I'm next—you know, "Help, I've fallen, and I can't get up").
Still, my experience this morning tells me how easily taken I am, how easily self-concern and a little treacherous ice leads me to forget that others around me are making the same long slog. It's in sitting—or, as Sharon often teaches—it's the remembering, the coming back, where the real progress is made.
This post wouldn't be complete if I didn't invite you to tell us about your trip to work this morning (since most of the country drives, I'm guessing your stories will be more treacherous and dramatic than mine unless you're lucky enough to live in sunnier climes). At the Tricycle Book Club, we'd like to hear about it—and your sitting practice.
By the way, Sharon just wrote to say a few of her book gatherings were canceled due to icy weather. Her response: "Now I have some time to catch up." This is a bit of a misquote, though, because I didn't include the exclamation point.