Maybe you’ve been there. You’re determined to try and gain (or regain) a greater measure of insight and enlightenment in your life - the kind of enlightenment that can lead to real joy and significant satisfaction. So you make the decision to begin a spiritual practice - meditation, prayer, journaling, or even simple reflection.
The setting for the first day of your new practice can vary. You may be in a low-lit room or you could be outside in the sunshine. Maybe you’re alone or surrounded by others with a similar goal. No matter where you are, it can feel like you’re a warrior on the day of battle. You sit and you wait for this momentous beginning to occur, for enlightenment, insight, and truth to wash over you.
However, there’s a good chance that all of this is occurring at the beginning or the end of a long day. As you sit there, your mind, which didn’t get the memo regarding your new practice, starts to spit up all the things that are on your to-do list. Or...all the things that you failed to cross off that list.
Stop it! Concentrate!
You take a deep breath and begin again, trying to clear your monkey mind. But it swings wildly, throwing crazy disjointed thoughts through your awareness like the never-ending news ticker at the bottom of a CNN news report. Red wine. Yes, full-bodied delicious red wine. You think about how nice it would be to have glass of wine and slip into a warm bath. Isn’t the new episode of “The Crown” on tonight?
Stop this! Cut this crap out! Get serious!
The beauty of a true spiritual journey is that it keeps unfolding from inside yourself, and if you just wait a little longer you’ll see how hungry you are for integrity inside yourself, for a certain quietness, for a certain clarity.
The tendency in our society is when there’s dis-ease, to grab another experience in order to reduce it.
I remember when I got into my cell in Burma. I spent the day in my cell, the first day of my two months, meditating righteously and getting my sleeping bag right and my food containers, and studying the spider at the window, and all the things you do. Then I realized I had months yet to go, and I was bored. I was really bored. Boredom became my object of meditation. I looked at boredom. Instead of the identification, “I’m bored,” I thought, “What is boredom? What does it feel like? What is it like? What does it mean to be bored?” Instead of, “Oh I’m bored.”
When your body is out of whack, you figure out how to get it straight. You try to sit down and meditate, but you can’t get your knees quiet – they hurt too much. You sit down to meditate and your back hurts. You can’t leave your body for 40 minutes without freaking out, so you may decide, “I gotta work on my body.” Maybe you’ll go into Hatha Yoga Asanas.