Monday, September 11, 2006

Starting to reflect

I've always thought about meditating, and I even took a Buddhism class at BYU (what a mind job that was) so I've had assignments that involved meditating, but I don't think I've ever felt comfortable enough with myself to really try it. Until last night.

I've finally made enough distance between myself and the church/BYU that I'm starting to relax a little. No more constantly checking and rechecking to see if I'm in line with the other believers around me; no worrying about measuring up to some other worldly ideal; no more trying to change myself to be like the Mormon god; it's just me now. There's no one I have to answer to, and there's no one in my life demanding me to be this way or that. I'm almost in the complete opposite direction of where I was five years ago on my mission. I answer to no one.

It's a very sobering thought, and I think it's taken me long enough to realize that there really are no demands in life, only the ones we put on ourselves. It's easy to say that, but so much harder to existentially live it.

So last night was the first time that I started to really look inward, which, to me, is what mediation is all about. I sat there in silence in my living room. It was late so the streets were quiet and most everyone was asleep. I tried concentrating, but the hum of my computer was so loud, that I had to turn it off. There are so many things demanding our attention all the time, and when I was sitting there, I couldn't think until it was as quiet as I could make it.

For the first time in a long time, I really appreciated the silence. I just sat and listened, but something didn't seem quite right; it was too silenced. So I opened the window in the living room, and I could hear the nature outside. There must be something about the pace of nature found outside of our modern life. We try to bring nature into our lives with grassy lawns, or fountains in the building, but there's such a disconnect most times that we have to take camping trips. Ultimately, I think it's the pace of nature that we are wanting; we call it peace and quiet, but it's actually quite loud at times. So there must be more to it than just getting away from it all, because even when we get away, we're somewhere that's very alive.

I listened to the frog's croaking outside my window; the frog's voice would pulse, just like a heartbeat. I think that is the pulse of nature. If we could be still enough, we would feel that beat, and I think that is the beat of life, and I'm going to try to make that the beat of my lifestyle, not the modern clock we've created for ourselves.

Trying to quiet my mind was so difficult. I had thoughts that would zoom here and there; they were solutions and questions about my day, my life, and I couldn't stop them from coming. I think all those thoughts are really the attempts of my mind to find stability. I come up with the solutions, but the questions just keep coming, so it can't be that I'm really figuring anything out because once I've answered the question, another problem arises. So there must be something that the mind needs by creating all these problems that need solving, some sort of stability that it can hold on to, at least for a second, when it figures out an answer.

I realized that if I was ever going to get anywhere, I had to be able to think on one thought for a long time. I thought I would just try and concentrate on one phrase and go from there:

I am loved.

I started repeating that phrase slowly in my mind, and it still was difficult to not have other thoughts come racing in. At this time, I was sitting in my chair and facing towards the window; I wasn't in any unusual position, just sitting. I tried connecting my middle finger to my thumb on each hand, and that seemed to do something for me. I think that the reason most people meditate in certain positions is to allow certain parts of our mind to concentrate on keeping the position while other parts are allowed to be open to our thoughts.

There are three main parts to our minds; the intellect, the emotions, and the instinctual side. We make decisions with all three, but I think in meditating in certain positions, we allow the intellect to occupy itself with maintaining the position while the emotions and our instinctual mind can be free to concentrate on our thoughts. At least that's what if felt like for me while I held my hands that way. I didn't sit in any different position, but just held those certain fingers together.

And then I started repeating that phrase, trying to concentrate on the phrase itself and on the meaning of it. My mind started to quiet itself, and I started to look at the reasons I did certain things in my life. I still wanted to try to concentrate on that one phrase, but I just couldn't help examining the things I did in life. I think it's healthy to do that, but at the same time, I don't think my mind is really ready to look at what is really going on, at least until I can focus my thoughts enough to really look at my life.

So that's the goal. I'm going to try focus my mind with meditation over the next few days and weeks. We'll see how it goes.