For a blissful month or so after returning home from the week-long silent meditation retreat I attended in late April, there was no place I’d rather be than my meditation cushion. I longed to be there. My cushion had become a delicious refuge of peacefulness, quiet, serenity.
It was heavenly.
But then… as I returned, slowly, but surely, to my duties, my daily routine, life in the ‘real’ world, things shifted.
Today when I sat to meditate, I realized just how often my mind wandered. Renowned meditation teacher Jack Kornfield likes to compare the wandering mind to an excited puppy you are trying to train. OH, look! There’s a squirrel! Oh, wait, check out that person over there! Hey, what’s that smell?
Yep. That’s what the mind is like so much of the time. That’s certainly what my mind has been like lately - both on and off the cushion. What was that errand I needed to run? Let’s see, what poses do I want to include in tomorrow’s yoga class? Where will I go on my next vacation? Oh, yes, tonight I want to plant those coleus starts and go to the store and clean the fridge and… etc… etc… etc…
Today when I caught my mind wandering in meditation and realized just how often it has been doing that lately I thought how much our meditation practice—or whatever other spiritual practice we are engaging—is a mirror of our life.
Yep, the mind wanders off. Yep, we get distracted from our practice—sometimes for days or maybe even weeks on end.
The beauty of all this is, though, that each time we wander away, we have the capacity to wake up to the fact that we have wandered. To realize that we have become distracted from the practices that nourish and feed us.
And to return to those practices, just as we can return the mind to focusing on our breath or lovingkindness or whatever the focus of that day’s meditation might be each time we sit in meditation.
The same is true for whatever other life endeavor we are undertaking. Each and every moment allows us an opportunity to return to the path. To begin again.
When we notice how far we have wandered from the path, the tendency is to berate ourselves. To judge ourselves for wandering, for becoming distracted, or perhaps for abandoning our practice altogether.
When in fact, this is a moment to celebrate - for we have just awakened to the reality of our world. We have noticed what is happening. And when this happens, we have the opportunity to make a wise choice about where we will go, what we will do next.
So do not despair! No matter how many times you wander —during any given practice or life endeavor—or any day or week or year—take heart!
And begin again.
This is life.
This is the path.
Wishing you a wonderful day of new beginnings,
“Meditation as a Mirror…” photo by Jane Bodle (Villa Taranto, Italy)