Piles and piles of meditation homework

Shiva Rea is big on altars. She had a traveling one that her assistants set up every day during teacher training. She inspired me to clean up mine and make it even prettier for my nightly meditation.

My favorite things.

I haven't been here nearly as much as I should. My daily 30-minutes meditations have been sacrificed for work, television, dinner with friends, etc., although I am getting in 30 minutes a day at least four times a week. *Pat pat pat.* But now that we're on Week 5 of 6 of meditation class with teacher Rodney Smith, there is so much meditation homework, I can hardly keep up. Here's the running list:

  • Meditate 30 minutes a day.
  • Sleep eight hours a day.
  • Do one thing mindfully a day. (I'm still sort of mindfully brushing my teeth.)
  • Be totally mindful for an hour a day.
  • Do something kind for yourself once a day. (Rodney was very specific that this does not include eating chocolate.) 
  • Develop compassion by seeking out pain in the newspaper or people you see who are suffering. Put aside defense mechanisms like avoidance or saying they deserved it and instead see the suffering. Feel their pain, feel your own vulnerability and whenever you encounter pain, offer the phrase: "May you be free of pain and sorrow."
  • Perform simple actions that demonstrate the difference between language and experience. Touch something that is soft, think about how to describe it to a friend, then forget the description and feel the experience, not the words. How can thought inform but not determine your relationship to the world
  • Are you still with me?
We're supposed to be adding another mindful thing each week, so I am technically up to five mindful things per day. I sometimes call yoga my mindful hour, but frankly, my head is floating in the clouds for a good chunk of my practice. The compassion meditation was particularly rough. I have been exposed to my share of people experiencing life at its traumatic worst and felt their pain cut through me. I didn't think I was an avoider. But I realized during the week of compassion meditation that I avoid the eyes of the homeless woman wrapped in a yellow rain jacket who stands at the same corner every day during rush hour. She makes me sad, so I look away. This week, I looked.

Rodney had some profound words tonight. I always thought the 15-minute walking meditation, when our focus is each step and nothing else, was simply a physical exercise in being present. Tonight he clarified: What is movement like when it is not about where you finally arrive? When we live life outside the present moment, always thinking about the future or the past, the current moment never feels complete. Meditation gives us sanity, allows us to be satisfied with the here and now and helps us to feel our own sense of completion instead of looking outward for the answer. With meditation, we walk fully grounded.


lookrichbitch said...

you lost me...

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Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr