Meditation Challenge Day #30

“...When the contemplative dimension existing in every man becomes starved, then people go berserk and do crazy things” -- William Johnston

It’s been 30 days since I started meditating every morning for ten minutes. Here’s what I have noticed.

Every day is different

I have never meditated with this much consistency. In the past I have meditated weekly (going to hour long meditations once a week) and sporadically (just sitting down to meditate now and then through the week, at different times of the day. But this time, I’m meditating each morning at about  six-thirty each day. I can not BELIEVE how different my mind-space is every day when I close my eyes. Some days it is easy to focus on sounds around me. Other days it is nearly impossible and I can only manage it for a few seconds at a time.

If I miss the regular time, it’s hard to make up for it later

On a few occasions my morning has been rushed and busy, and my routine does not go as planned. I might think ‘I can’t manage ten minutes now, but I’ll do it this evening’. It is surprising how the day can get away from me! Soon it’s night time and I haven’t done meditation.

Sitting helps

I like the feeling of meditating so much that I’ve given it a try when lying down in bed at night. It feels completely different. I like the feeling of sitting cross legged with my hands folded in my lap when I meditate. I found this quote in “Christian Zen” by Father Bill, and it explained to me why this might be:

“The fact is that this lotus position somehow impedes discursive reasoning and thinking; it somehow checks the stream of consciousness that flows across the surface of the mind; it detaches one from the very process of thinking. Probably it is the worst position for philosophizing but the best for going down, down to the center of one’s being in imageless and silent contemplation.”

I used to meditate by sitting in a chair with ankles crossed, feet on the floor, and hands in my lap. Now I’m sitting in lotus position (criss-cross applesauce!) and I like how it feels.

My perspective shifts

When I meditate in the morning, I pay attention to my inner world for a little bit. I invest my energy into my inner world, instead of right away paying attention only to the ‘outer world’ around me. That changes my perspective because it reminds me that I have an inner space that can be clean or cluttered, calm or anxious, quiet or loud.

Here’s another quote from Father William (Bill) Johnston. It’s in his book “Christian Zen” which I am reading now.

“… Western man is greatly in need of something like this, because the contemplative life is fantastically underdeveloped in the developed and affluent nations. Western civilization has become horribly one-sided and unbalanced, so much so that serious people can not see the distinction between computer and man. When this happens, and when the contemplative dimension existing in every man becomes starved, then people go berserk and do crazy things. And that is what is happening.”

I like this quote because it brings up the crazy/berserk behaviors that we’ve been seeing out in the world, but it is hopeful and solution-focused at the same time. He was an Irish Jesuit that studied Zen Buddhism in Japan for years, and wrote about his experience. He wrote the above quote in 1971. I think it applies to the modern Western world, still. We’re still in need of more contemplative quiet integrated into the day. If our inner world is starving for attention, we become out of balance. This reinforces within me the desire to meditate each morning. I am glad that I’m building this time into my routine. I’d like to do more of it!

Do you meditate regularly? When do you meditate, and for how long? How do you sit? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below.

Resources: “Christian Zen” by William Johnston