February 06, 2012
The Monday blues have hit meditation month—at least they have for me.
I spent the weekend researching Milarepa, the famous Tibetan poet-yogi, because of a journalism assignment. You know, this Milarepa...
...the one who went through agony just to receive basic Buddhist teachings from Marpa, and then, when he got them, stayed in solitary meditation for years. When his food ran out, he ate nothing but the nettles that grew outside his cave (which is why he is often portrayed with green skin) until he became fully awakened.
That, my friends, is dedication. And trust me, when you can't even get yourself to your cushion, he is the last person you want to have on your mind. I was just trying to persuade myself to get out of bed this morning—I hadn't even started to meditate yet!—when the judgment started. Thinking about Milarepa, are you? Fat chance you'll ever have his perseverance. You can't even get out of bed!
And so the stories go, around and around and around again. At times such as these, it's good to have the wise words of Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein to remind you what to do when you hit such meditation hindrances: mental noting. From today's Daily Dharma:
Mental noting takes us in a very different direction from getting lost in a story: “Oh, this anger is so miserable; I am such a terrible person because I’m always angry; this is just how I will always be,” and so on. Instead, we simply say to ourselves, “anger, anger”—and cut through all of that elaboration, the story, the judgment, the interpretation.
In the end, I got out of bed, but the judgment didn't stop when I hit the cushion. If there was a transcript of my session it would probably sound something like "doubt, doubt," "fear, fear," "resentment, resentment"—but as Brad Warner wrote this weekend in our "Meditation Doctor" community discussion, let what comes, come. Meditation month is all about sticking with it, despite the hindrances! There's no need to judge.
Our meditation e-book, free to supporting and sustaining members, is here to help you through tough spots like these, with 25 articles on meditation to aid in boosting your practice, whether it be off to a wonderful new week or drowning in the pits of the Monday blues. It's available to download here.
And throughout February, it's meditation month on tricycle.com—we'll be putting up videos, audio interviews, articles, and tips from well-known Buddhist teachers. If you need more personal advice for your practice, "Meditation Doctor" and Zen teacher Brad Warner will be answering reader questions here all month.
Photo: "Milarepa," photo by Maren Yumi Motomura. http://www.flickr.com/photos/360o/114357372/.