Recently, I’ve missed a few sittings. Sometimes because I hadn’t finished “living” until midnight; other times because I didn’t do it as soon as I woke up there simply wasn’t enough time to do an hour. Other times, I’ve “cheated” on the practice; I’ve stopped midway through a sitting and thought, “That should be good.” After consulting the clock, sometimes I had stopped about 50 minutes in. Other times, only just 30-ish minutes had passed.
We were told that the first year would be the year that determined whether or not we would become lifelong meditators. Clearly, nothing has been written in stone just yet, but there is a nagging voice that keeps suggesting to me that I may have a foot on the slippery slope. The technique is always there for me, but I wonder how my practice will be affected by the lack of consistency. Similarly, I wonder how my life will in turn be affected by the change in practice.
It seems I have no problem giving up meat and no problem giving up intoxicants (over six weeks now). Unfortunately, it also seems that I have no problem giving up the consistency of the practice. It does, I suppose, have something to do with the lack of a regular schedule. I don’t wake up at a gong bang every day at 4am. I don’t have a specific lights out time either, nor is my day on an hourly schedule. Is THIS the ticket to a successful practice? A successful life? Or just one of many tickets?
I know there is real resistance to giving up my freedom. I like being surprised by the course of my day. Sometimes I am on a roll (creatively) and I end up staying up very late; the night owl in me is alive and strong. It just doesn’t seem possible to wake up only four hours later. I have a childish attachment to being able to do what I want. It’s one of the ways I exert power and control over my circumstances. However, it had never occurred to me that I may actually be having a negative effect on my circumstances.
As soon as I finished the course, I had a dinner with friends and realized that night that I was very attached to my personality. I was in the post-course peace-haze and felt like an entirely different person. I was calm. I listened more than I talked. I was neither animated nor exciting. And I didn’t interrupt a single person. This is the opposite of my pre-course self: chatty, entertaining, and animated. That night, I experienced real fear that going down this path would mean the death of “me”….and the birth of a decidedly beige person. I was attached to myself. Of course, as time went by, the peace-haze dissipated and colourful me re-emerged. It seemed that the time to give myself up had not yet come.
It did, however, seem as though I would have to give something up. Through my late twenties, a number of daily practices were introduced into my life with varying success. These days, I am “supposed to” wake up, close my eyes and go through a list of things I’m grateful for, write three pages as soon as I get out of bed, do six sun salutations, do a full body ayurvedic massage, and now I am to sit in silence for an hour. Then breakfast? Something’s gotta give. I’m not interested in getting up at 4 so I can do all of these things. The ayurvedic massage barely happens anymore. The morning pages haven’t happened for weeks now. At this point in my development, I seem prepared to give only one hour to a daily practice every morning. I’m not giving up on Vipassana. I’m not giving up on me. And smoked organic tofu ain’t half bad.