This month has been incredibly challenging on a personal level. Two days after our last teacher training weekend ended, my husband and I bought our first house, and since then, we’ve either been packing, moving, arranging for repairs, spending hours looking for tools we never needed before at Lowe’s, learning how to do yard work, and just plain settling in. I haven’t had any time for reading other than when I’m on the train to and from the office, and my personal yoga practice has suffered too. Add to that the fact that this was a short yoga month with just three weeks between teacher training weekend sessions, so it’s been difficult for me to complete all my homework this month, and with all the chaos, difficult to see whether the meditation was having any effect in my life.
However, I do feel like I’ve made some progress with meditation this month. I have meditated every single day: even if I was just sitting down for four minutes in a room full of boxes, I still did it. Most days, I was able to do a little yoga or basic stretching before meditation, and every day I’ve done some sort of pranayama before meditation. I feel really glad that I’ve been able to make this a priority.
During this month, I’ve practiced either counting meditation or passage meditation. When I know I only have a few minutes, counting meditation has been a good option because it only takes a few minutes to count down from fifty; it’s like a built-in timer. For the most part, I have been able to keep my mind relatively on track during counting meditation; I’ve had some distractions, but never so much that I lose my place in the count. I’ve become amazed by how many thoughts I’m able to have between exhales! Staying focused on the breath and the count is difficult, especially with so many tasks on my mind this month, but I’ve mostly been able to stick with it.
I’ve also practiced passage meditation. With so little time available to read spiritual books or to meditate at all, I chose a line from a Rumi poem as my passage and have just stuck with that – it’s short enough that I feel like I can get somewhere with it in the few minutes I have available to meditate, but long enough that there’s good spiritual content to get somewhere with. Meditating on the passage has been interesting in different ways. Occasionally I’ve caught myself daydreaming in the background while the words of the passage float on the surface; once I found myself getting sleepy and substituting in other words and images that weren’t part of the passage. Overall, though, I find the passage technique to be really helpful for me in relaxing my mind and having something to focus on. The passage technique has also led me to consider different interpretations of my passage. For example, it occurred to me that one phrase that I had thought was about worship could just as easily be about service; I realized that another phrase that I’d thought was about natural physical beauty could also be interpreted as being about kindness. These realizations have carried beyond my meditation practice and led me to consider how I practice service and kindness in my life.
I’ve also found myself thinking about more spiritual topics this month. Usually when I’m moving, I get very caught up in the physical tasks that need to be done, and I have been caught up in those things, but I’ve also been thinking about more spiritual concepts. For example, I reflected on patience: how slowing down is mentioned in almost every text we’ve read, and how slowing down and being patient can help us in our daily lives. I also did some thinking about striving for excellence, and reflecting on how teacher training has influenced my thoughts, opinions, and actions in this realm. My reading in the yoga sutras this month has also affected my spiritual reflections. I’ve also been thinking a lot about practicing non-attachment (especially as I pack all my worldly possessions into boxes and carry them around).
Overall, in spite of all the personal challenges in my life this month, I feel good about the time I was able to create in my schedule for meditation practice, and I’m happy about the progress I’ve made. I look forward to continuing the journey.