Friday, September 5, 2008

Sitting Still

One of the most often missed, skipped, bailed on and down right neglected aspects of the Project training program is sitting still. I've encouraged the Project Test Pilots to sit quietly, in contemplation a couple times per week for only a few minutes at a time. Yet, it's the number one missed assignment of the Project. Funny, folks have no problem knocking out a challenging 30 - 45 minute workout yet find sitting still for 10 minutes nearly impossible. Of all the Test Pilots who are turning in their weekly reports, I know of only 2 who are consistenly practicing meditation. Conversely, of all the Test Pilots reporting, only a couple miss more than one assigned workout per week.

This was/is no surprise to me, there are lots of reasons and even more excuses for avoiding meditation. I've heard 'em all, and I've used most of 'em myself. Sometimes its simply a lapse of mindfulness and forgetting to complete the assignment. Sometimes it's a fear of meditation, or just an uncertainty. Most often I find it's related to our nature and desire to be "successful" at what we are doing and that we have a known outcome or benefit for what we are doing; "what's in it for me?"

And then the monkey-mind chatter kicks in, or what I refer to as the play by play commentator that resides in our mind -- "This feels like a colassal waste of time. This is soooo stupid and boring. I have soooo many other things that I could be doing right now. Man, my back hurts and so do my hips. Okay, back to the breath.... I wonder what I should make for dinner tonight. Oh, yeah, can't forget that meeting tomorrow. Barack/McCain is the bomb. Okay back to focusing....focus, focus, focus, WAIT I have to remember to pick up Johnny after school tomorrow. Now, breathe... darn it, I should have TiVo'd that convention speech. I've totally lost all feeling in my legs/feet, I hope it isn't permanent....focus, breathe.....hey, there it is, my mind is calm and still, er, well it was...." Sound familiar?

Contemplation/meditation deals with matters of the mind and spirit, not so much the body; though some of us have to deal with physical discomfort for a period of time before we gain access to the mind/spirit work that lies ahead. Seeing and feeling results from proper training and diet are almost immediate; we have a noticible return on our investment. Additionally, we have measureable results, lower numbers on the scale, reduced blood pressure, running faster and farther, able to do more push ups, etc. With mental training, it's not the case.

We are all at different points along the path and no one is superior to another. We just start right where we are and each time our mind wanders, we just bring it back to our focal point. Each time we start and then stop our practice, we just pick it up again the next time it's assigned. All I can tell you is that if you never practice, you will never discover why you should have started in the first place.

Here are a few tips/reminders to consider:
  • Have no expectations on your practice -- don't assume that meditation will make you a happier person, a kinder person, more spiritual, less stressed, skinnier, prettier, smarter, wiser, more compassionate, richer, or any other "label".
  • Leave judgement out of your practice -- there are no "good" meditation sessions and there are no "bad" meditation sessions. There is never "success" related to contemplation and there is never "failure" related to contemplation. Tough concepts I know, yet without this understanding, you will never get past "Step 1".
  • Patience and persistence. I have a saying, "The best remedy for resistance is persistence" and I think it applies no where better than right here. Just sit and see what happens.
  • As I shared with the Project Test Pilots, the answer to almost every question relating to meditation is "just sit..." It's that simple, it's that challenging.

Hope this helps.

In Peace,


Test Pilot Christine, "gettin' er done" near a waterfall in Kentucky. You don't need a special "throne" to sit upon, nor a temple/church to listen for the voice of God. You just need to sit, just sit, just sit...

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