The ebb and flow

It’s been such a great year. ┬áThe inner life and self awareness have gotten a real boost and I am so grateful. The retreat this past year (and all of the past years’ retreats); as well as starting this blog, which has been a longtime goal of mine; and even the continued slow and steady success of PrannaTimer, with the addition of another guest artist, Sid, from Texas and many meditators ordering incense and loops, which means they are sitting and using the timer in their practice — all of these together feel like blessings for me.

At the same time, I’ve also had a few weeks where the practice has been foggy and fuzzy. The Giants winning the world series led to a few nights of beer and tv.. followed by the frenzy of the victory parade and topped off by the madness of the presidential election!

All of this is very “worldly business” and took my practice from being strong and steady to loose and wobbly in a matter of days. I still found time to sit, especially on weekday mornings, but weekday nights were hard and weekends even less steady.

When we are in the middle of the swirling chaos of life, sitting can be busy, noisy, and even sleepy. Instead of connecting to our essential nature or abiding in a quiet and steady mind, it may feel as if we are cleaning up after a party or filing mental paperwork after a busy season of doing business. It may still feel like a blessing to have the time to sit and sift through all of that chatter – but it can also make you temporarily forget the point of it all.

Luckily, and happily, my practice has certain anchors that have gotten me back on track. The daily sitting, the weekly dharma talks at Mission Dharma, and writing these blog posts are all great for bringing me back to practice.. and back to myself. Yoga is also great (and had been disrupted first by scheduling conflicts, then a cold) for bringing me back into my body and helping me make decisions that are kind and beneficial to my well-being.

This ebb and flow of practice is a great lesson. I’m learning more about dharma as a ‘life practice’, rather than as a sort of sport-of-experiences where retreats are the main events and the daily sitting is just the training. I’m learning more about incorporating practice into my life – and making it into a lifestyle rather than a bi-annual quest for new meditative accomplishments. While the ebbs and flows of concentration on retreat may be faster and more pronounced, the rhythm is a little different for a practicing layperson involved in worldly affairs and living in a major metropolitan city with a world champion baseball team.

As I wrote in one of my very first posts, though, the sleepy sits and the busy sits and the lost in thought sits still count. ┬áJust keep sitting. The ebbs will happen… but so will the flows. It may just be the ebbs and flows that wear away the attachments that keep us in Samsara. It may just be the disruptions in our practice that make us realize how much we benefit from feeling concentrated.