Just like life, our meditation practice can be quite cyclical. At times we may feel that our sitting sessions are frequent, our minds are settled and feelings of gratitude are around every corner. Whereas at other times, it might feel like months go by between each visit to the cushion and when we get there, we don’t want to be there.
This is completely normal and is part of the process. Jack Kornfield explains that “these ordinary cycles of opening and closing are necessary medicine for our heart’s integration. In some cases, though, there are not just cycles, there is a crash. As far as we ascend, so far can we fall. This too needs to be included in our maps…honoured as one more natural part of the great cycle”. In this way, these lulls that we may experience, or apathy that can set in, or perhaps a downright feeling of resignation has taken hold are all part of the integration process of opening our heart to whatever presents itself and working the edge of just simply ‘being with’.
This week’s challenge is to see if we can notice any feelings of self-congratulation (with a satisfying sit), or any sense of ‘not good enough’ with either a session filled with distraction or perhaps with a week of missed practice. We might start to notice the stories that we tell ourselves about our practice…Are there any ‘should’ statements? Are there any feelings of failure? Or perhaps, we might feel like we’ve climbed the mountain and our practice is at a peak. We can observe any thoughts and feelings that we may have as we are sitting, after we have sat or maybe as we walk past that cushion one more time. Can we be with things just as they are? Can we work the edge of being with exaggerated or heightened feelings of disappointment or joy? Or maybe even apathy? And can we come back to an intention to start again tomorrow?
Then we might like to remind ourselves that in the same way as the seasons come and go, as our sense of well-being peaks and troughs, so does our practice. And the more that we come to see this, understand this and accept this, we can start to move towards living a life filled with equanimity and stability of mind.