February 21, 2014

Meditation Month: Going for the Gold

Day twenty-one of our monthlong challengeEmma Varvaloucas

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.

It’s really bad news for me that February is both Meditation Month and the Winter Olympics. I’m obsessed with the Olympics—ice skating, specifically. I’ve watched every single ice skating event this year, and that’s not something to brag about. Doing dishes? Filing my tax return? Showing up to appointments? Right. About that...

In the long program, the second and final skate in ice skating competitions, the skaters are split into groups according to their scores in the short program, which comes first. Most people only watch the last, highest scoring group of skaters, who are usually battling each other for the podium, and for good reason. These are the athletes who are so talented at skating that they make the performance look beautiful and easy, like anyone could go out onto the ice and flawlessly execute a triple Lutz. But if you watch the earlier groups, where the technical skill and artistry levels aren’t as high, you realize just how difficult it is to jump in the air and land on a blade only 4mm thick.

Obviously, you can’t make it to the Olympics without toughing it out through a lot of hard practices and competitions, self-doubt, and an unbelievable amount of stress and pressure. But there’s something very tangible there waiting for you at the end of all of that blood, sweat, and tears, propelling you forward when you want to give up: an Olympic medal, or at least the possibility of one.

As Max pointed out yesterday, we don’t meditate for medals*, even though awakening is a goal that seems just as, if not more, unattainable than winning an Olympic one. I have to admit: sometimes when I’m being a grumpygills and meditation seems more like torture than anything else, this intangible goal is just not enough of a motivator to get me to a cushion. I want meditation glory! Promise me that, and then I’ll go sit down.

I’m kidding (sort of). But I do wonder: what motivational thoughts do you guys draw on to help you get meditating when the meditating gets tough?

 

*Can you imagine if we did, though? “In the metta category, Jack Kornfield for the gold in a surprise upset over favorite Sharon Salzberg…Bhikkhu Analayo makes the Germans proud with a silver in insight practice after faltering all week in his concentration execution…With a bronze in absentia to Mingyur Rinpoche for his spontaneous wandering yogi retreat…”


Image: Ladies ice skating medalists at the Sochi Olympics. [Editor's note: Yuna Kim was robbed!]

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