To my fellow meditators
Apart from having read the “Monk who Sold his Ferrari” at an age where I wasn’t really sure what to make of it, my interest in Buddhism has been a fairly recent one. I found the ideas and the philosophy resonating, enough to inspire my Master’s thesis and experience a Vipassana retreat for myself. Since then, which would be 5 years ago, I’d call myself a dilettante in the practice of meditation.
I would often find myself looking at meditation as another one of those chores in the to-do list to tick off. 15 minutes of watching my breath, Check. 15 mins of scanning my body for sensation, Check. There was always, however, a nagging doubt underneath. What is that supposed to do for me, other than maybe get me to be better at watching my breath i.e., if I can stick to doing it for long enough. The idea that mindfulness is a way of being, and meditation being a deliberate practice for it, sounded like a pretty radical one. I often found myself grappling with it, arguing for the joys of mindless Netflix binging and wafer munching.
Following months of deliberation, paralleled by deep dives into the rabbit hole of videos on monks talking about mindfulness, I think I have some sense of where I am at. While I might not be ready to give up on the idea of mindless entertainment in my quest for Enlightenment, I do see what the argument for the other side is. That even mindless entertainment should be a choice. That when it isn’t, and when I find myself shuttling between YouTube to facebook and the next social media app (btw, has it ever happened to you that you closed an app only to find yourself opening it again the next instant?), maybe that’s a way of disconnecting from myself. That I do not have to give up on my guilty pleasures to recognize that I might still need to look at my relationship with it.
Coming to my own meditation practice, I started noticing some things about it. My typical practice, as a beginner, is one of focused attention on the breath. I was keenly aware of this chastising voice in my head whenever I would notice that I had drifted from the task at hand. And I did not see the problem with it, till I came across a monk, who I fail to place since I have heard several of them now give the same message (mindless youtubing might not be so pointless after all!), about the idea of acceptance. A central goal of mindfulness and meditation practice by extension, is to build not only awareness but also acceptance. Acceptance that my mind will wander, that is what the mind does. And that all I need to do is notice and get it back, not judging myself for having let it wander, not judging myself for having judged mys... Sorry! Well needless to say, but easier said than done!?!
“Zazen is good for nothing”