Archive for March, 2012

March 7, 2012

The company you keep in the empty moments

“I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

A friend invited me to my first meditation circle a few weeks ago and as nervous as I was to sit silently with my own thoughts, my curiosity got the better of me. I was pleasantly surprised and the experience left me wanting more. The nature of the event was beautiful. We started with one hour of silent meditation followed by a circle of sharing/reflection and then a wonderful meal and time for socializing with new friends. Here are some thoughts/reflections I remember from the silent meditation. As you can tell, they are extremely profound.

  • Oh man, what do I do now? Should I chant something? Count seconds? Focus on my breathing?
  • Ok, I will focus on my breathing. Oh no, I disrupted my breathing pattern. Oh no, I can’t catch my breath….
  • The door just opened. I shouldn’t open my eyes but I wonder who just came in. Ok, just this once. Uh oh – looks like I wasn’t the only one with that thought…..I exchange a brief guilty smile with my fellow meditation miscreant. 
  • Let me try chanting my favorite prayer – Om Tat Sat Shri – which I learned in India. Ok, this is working. I’ll try singing it slower to help pass the time. I’m starting to forget the words…
  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. 
  • I can’t believe I fell asleep. I’m awful. What do I do now? I know! I’ll make up a dance in my head.
  • That is so shallow. I should be reflecting or thinking deeply about something….anything.
  • How can anyone be silent and still for this long?
  • Chin slowly falls to chest. Zzzzzzzzz
  • Great, now I’m not going to have anything to share during reflection.
  • Is it cheating if I listen to music next time?
  • Have we really not reached an hour yet? My leg is falling asleep.

An hour is up. Someone rings the bell and my eyes fly open to watch everyone else put their hands over their eyes and slowly come back to the present moment. My first thought = “I am such a novice.”

Reflections: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, my mind didn’t spiral out of control into an abyss of negativity, and most importantly I did it. I have heard that meditation refreshes and energizes you and to be honest, I didn’t feel like either of those but I did feel proud that I was able to sit silently for an hour. To me, this is a huge accomplishment and one that did create a mind shift for me. I have proactively resisted meditation in the past saying “Oh, it’s not for me.” But now, I am slowly starting to understand its purpose.

We live in a world of sensory overload and constant input. To me, an idle moment is inexcusable. I crave the input, the interaction, the constant sense of being “efficient”. What I realized during that meditation session is that in order to be the most effecient, we need to figure out “if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”

This quote is from a wonderful poem I heard at another meditation retreat I attended recently (yes, I liked it enough to try it again!). The last line of the poem really stuck with me because I feel like it is precisely my goal for meditation. I have purposely made myself too busy to think, reflect, or hold myself accountable. I have scared myself into thinking that I must fill every empty moment with something because the alternative is unacceptable. I am afraid of the direction my thoughts will lead me but I have realized that for me, the goal of meditation will be to figure out who I am and who I want to be in those empty moments.