Chelsea Richer: Secrets of regular practice
April 8, 2013
Ever found yourself missing a session? Finding it a stretch to keep up regular meditation practice in those days of over-brimming to-do-lists and constant busy-ness? Heard the small voice whisper: ‘The heck with it! Why is regularity of practice such a holy cow, after all?’ — Well, this essay here is for you, then. As you are about to learn, regular Transcendental Meditation is not a holy cow. It is, instead, a cute little puppy…
Secrets of regular practice of Transcendental Meditation
Every once in a while, and sometimes more often than not, I fall off the meditation wagon. I do not claim to have never missed a meditation since I learned my technique, like many do. In all honesty, I probably have meditated only half the time of what I am “supposed to”.
After a few years of wincing for only meditating in the morning and not again till the next morning, and going week on week off, I realized I don’t benefit from judging myself for not practicing regularly. I was getting wrapped up in how I was “supposed to do it”. Eventually, I allowed the act of sitting down to meditate frustrate me because of its apparent desire to disrupt my ‘flow’. The undercurrent – ‘push’ to meditate was telling me what I needed…but I forgot to listen.
Your meditation belongs to you, in your own expression of it. You are essentially free in your own mind to think your thoughts, or not think your thoughts, or not have any thoughts. And accept all of it! For me, in order to be in control of any of that, I have to have a well-cared for, personal relationship with my meditation practice. To earn the trust of your meditation, you have to visit it every day. It’s like having a puppy. And my puppy had been a bit malnourished for some time.
I practice Transcendental Meditation, which is a mantra based meditation. I love this technique for a number of reasons but the main one being that it is easy for my mind to dive right into. Literally, the hardest part about it is actually sitting down to do it. But it wasn’t until recently I realized that the very reason why I loved the technique so much in the first place was the very thing that was holding me back from diving in now. I wasn’t allowing the purity that I know resides in the technique, to evolve through me in an organic way no one could ever teach. Again, forgetting to listen.
Knowing how to listen to your body should be a direct consequence of regularly practicing meditation. Reflecting on the impulses, I have learned, will teach you in infinite ways. In other words: watch yourself.
This past Friday night I went to a two hour meditation workshop. We were encouraged to use the technique we already knew. It was designed as a sort of participatory lecture on the action of the mind during meditation and how that can be mirrored in your waking interactions. The workshop included some relaxing yoga poses with props and a 20 minute group meditation. Those two hours have allowed me to find a better language for my experiences in the times I am regularly practicing meditation.
“It’s one thing to be angry and feel that anger but it’s another thing to watch yourself become angry and find humor in that.”…(!)…When the instructor said this I wanted to burst up and applaud everyone in the room. “Congratulations!” I thought, “We have been given a very special gift! We can watch ourselves!”….We all know this, we have all experienced it. But now it was somehow, tangible.
Being in that space, within, with a group of others who are also within, is an amazing reminder of what the mind is capable of. Going to that space every day by yourself will benefit you in ways only you can understand when it happens. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about it though….whatever “it” is….is its ability to come forth in your daily activity.
Recently, as I was walking out of the Boulder Farmer’s Market, I was approached by a man who was very proud of a photo in his hand that depicted President Obama with a Hitler moustache. Now, I usually find myself actively engaged with passionate people no matter their stance, in order to get a more clear understanding of where they are coming from. However, this time I respectfully took charge. It was as if my words were tied to a string and I was pulling the string out of my mouth very fast. I was watching my words enter his mind before they even left my lips. I was watching and listening to myself constructively criticize his offensive approach and simultaneously laughing at the fact that I had his attention. How exhilarating.
I don’t condone meditating to become a better arguer. This is just an example.
After shaking his hand I walked away recognizing that being more balanced, among many other things, allows me to say exactly what I would like to at the right time to say it, something I often struggle with.
You have to greet your meditation somewhere in the middle. Everything circles back to balance. The second you recognize how empty your mind is in your meditation, you’re sucked right back into the room. (Dammit, I was so vast a second ago!) Where is the in between?
For me, regular meditation creates this balance. Things fall into place much easier, there’s more room for acceptance, experience, exhilaration, and my favorite, tons of humor.
Go take care of the puppy. You’ll both feel better.
— Chelsea Richer
This post was originally published in the blog Tuning the Student Mind: Consciousness based dialogue for the soul that stirs. It was titled “Falling off the Wagon, Watching Yourself and Taking Care of the Dog”.
Chelsea Richer, founder of the blog:
“’Tuning the Student Mind‘ started as my senior thesis documentary project in 2010, after my profound experience with learning Transcendental Meditation. As a student affiliate for the David Lynch Foundation, my goal was to track my progress with the Transcendental Meditation technique as well as aggregate a group of students who were interested in consciousness based education. After graduating from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Tuning the Student Mind became a non-profit organization. It has also grown to include the topics, yoga and food, both of which I feel, are important aspects of my meditation.”