For the few who’re keen on learning about my continuing meditation practice.
Through 2016 I was not very serious about my meditation practice. I’ve recovered lost momentum since the beginning of this year.
I was reintroduced to practice right after I met a friend of my brother. Let’s call him Steve. Steve stays in Bangalore and meditates regularly. He also frequents retreats (I believe they’re related to the practice of Vipassana). Right after the day we met, Steve was also nice enough to put together a Telegram group of his friends who practice. That was enough to spark some fresh enthusiasm in me for this habit.
I try my best not to regard myself by any means as more than anything but a beginner. Writing about it is merely a means of self-encouragement. Do keep that in mind when going over what’s ahead.
I believe my practice is deeper now than when I began. I stick to a lean method of working on concentrating on the breath and then later the more quicker pulse. If a thought comes in the way, I gradually find my way back to tracking the pulse. Occasionally I’ll think I’m tracking my pulse, but I’m not. Other times I’ll recognize that I’m feeling sleepy, as I haven’t had sufficient sleep.
With respect to the benefits of meditation, it does have a very subtle effect on the degree of clarity I carry with me throughout the day.
I haven’t yet experienced any serious downsides. Just like any other habit that you do and discontinue, there are unnecessary feelings of guilt that’ll recur when you’re going through a lean patch.
To share what I learned, it’s hard to justify the practice of meditation with anything other than the thought that I believe that somewhere in the middle of the practice there’s a long-term question that’s being answered.
Another observation is that every time your life takes a new turn, say there’s a new job, or a new house, new relationship – those are the least likely times when meditation as a practice will stick/continue to stick. New events tend to steal your enthusiasm for a regular and mundane practice such as meditation.
On the flip side, it’s a good practice to have when anxiety, stress, or fear are overwhelming. It’s in these times that near-term effects of meditation are the most needed and apparent. If you’ve been meditating regularly, keep this in mind and I think it’ll help you keep at it.
“You don’t learn the basics of navigation in the thick of a storm; you learn them in good weather on a calm sea. In the same way, it is best in the beginning to meditate in a quiet place where there is space for the mind to develop clarity and stability.” – Mathieu Ricard, ‘The Art of Meditation’.