Those who may be following the posts here know that I’ve been exploring the impact of meditation on daily life; or meditation as a lifestyle as opposed to a casual activity (of a once-in-a-while or new meditator) or an isolated activity (as might happen on retreat).
Lately, I’ve been tracking how my practice is sometimes stronger, sometimes wobbly, and sometimes succumbs to the busyness of life all together. And along with my practice, my sense of connectedness, concentration, clarity, compassion rise and fall in relation to my confusion, frustration and stress.
What I’ve found is that while I’m “off balance”, I’m really just as lost in the woods as I ever was. I feel like mindfulness doesn’t even exist. Of course it’s impossible to know if this is the case or not – there is no way to do a controlled study with myself, but it feels like when I’m lost in thoughts and emotions, my practice is nowhere to be found.
However, just as the clarity is easily lost, it is easily found again — given that one has built up a habit of practice and gotten to know oneself through practice. Even when I feel I’ve had a “bad week”, I find that a return to the cushion brings a swift return to my calm, peaceful mind. I can’t express how glad I am of this. Practice becomes a refuge, indeed, when life is difficult. Maintaining the practice through the difficulty is the best path, but when we find we’ve wandered, it’s good to know the path is not only accessible, but that our prior work helps us settle more quickly and come back into balance again.
How many patterns in nature exhibit that curious quality of chaos — that they resemble themselves in the macro and micro views? While sitting, we come back to the breath when we find we’ve been lost. With a solid practice, we come back to the breath when we find we’ve been lost. I wonder if that pattern holds throughout our many rebirths? In any case, the key is to strengthen the practice by doing it.. back to the cushion, back to the breath, back to the Buddha.