Intentions and Obstacles

After last night’s post which was, admittedly, longer than I meant it to be, I want to keep tonight’s post short and sweet.

I have a confession to make: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I either forgot or neglected to do my meditation.

Yeah. That’s right. I didn’t follow through on my plan. And several times, even though I remembered an hour or so after I usual meditate that I hadn’t done so, I said to myself, “It’s ok, you exercised really hard today, you can take a break and meditate later tonight.” Or “why don’t you just consider your Tai Chi as your meditation today…it was a moving meditation!”

I could make excuses here. You see, I changed my routine. On Friday morning I went to begin my exercise. I had been starting with fast walking on the treadmill for half a mile. But on Friday, something in me said “you need to take it up a notch. You aren’t pushing yourself – walking half a mile is too easy for you now”.

So I decided I was going to run, and that I was going to run a mile.

(In case you don’t know me very well, you must understand that this was a big deal for me. I don’t remember the last time I chose to run a mile, but it was probably in high school, and at that point my ski coach was probably forcing me to do it)

So I jumped on the treadmill, did a tenth of a mile walking to warm up, and ran the rest of the mile without stopping. By the time I stopped, the entire upper part of my body was soaked with sweat, and sweat had streamed down my face into my eyes, making them sting something fierce.

I had been transitioning straight from walking into my Tai Chi, but after running, I went to the bathroom to wash my face and wipe off the rest of my torso. My heart was pounding and I sat down for a few minutes to settle myself before beginning my Tai Chi. Thirty minutes later, when I finished my Tai Chi, I was extremely sweaty and hot, and also exhausted. So I sat down in my chair.

Here is where I went wrong. You see, that morning, I had woken up a bit later than I intended (I had a doctor’s appointment at 9:30am), and so I had only done two of my three nebulizers. It seemed like a good time to sit still and do the other one. So I went ahead and started it. By the time I was done, I had forgotten about what I usually do after Tai Chi, which is, of course, meditate.

And I went about my day never thinking I had forgotten something.

It wasn’t until that night that I remembered, and at that point it was almost time for bed, and I just shrugged it off.

The next day was somewhat similar, only I actually chose not to meditate because I wanted to shower, and when I had finished with my shower I was hungry, and when I had finished eating…well, I had forgotten. And on Sunday…the men’s Wimbledon final was on television and my aunt and uncle were watching it and I was interested so I began to watch and once I had begun to watch I couldn’t tear myself away. I finished watching and began my normal exercise routine but I went straight from running to Tai Chi to lifting weights and once again forgot about meditation. Again, I remembered it that night, but I was sleepy and I shrugged it off.

It wasn’t until this morning (when our meditation group meets) that I noticed what I had been missing. After just about forty-five minutes of group meditation with this wonderful group of people, I remembered how much I needed my meditation practice to stay grounded and maintain inner peace.

I’m not sure if I have been more or less irritable or anything like that the past three days when I forgot to meditate. But I do know that my thoughts were more scattered, I had more trouble writing and most of all, I had a more difficult time making decisions. Things like deciding what to write about in my blog or what to eat for a snack seemed confusing and uncertain.

I felt like I was much less present than I have been when I am meditating regularly. I also felt like the space for me between impulse and action was reduced. That might sound ok, but in fact, the more space there is between a stimulus and my reaction the better. For example, I said many things this weekend without thinking about them. They just came out of my mouth. And once words come out of your mouth, you can’t take them back. Fortunately for me, I didn’t embarrass myself too much, nor did I offend anyone mortally. But I can tell, looking back on the last few days that I didn’t have enough space between my impulses and my actions.

So, tonight I want to ask you this: is there something you have been “meaning to do” or something you have been “trying to do consistently” but that keeps disappearing from your daily agenda? (oh, by the way, if you say “no”, you’re probably a liar) What is keeping you from doing X – thing? Is it something you can control? If yes, what can you do to remove the obstacle?

That is what I had to do for myself today. I had to look at what was causing me problems. And the obstacle was the need to rest between Tai Chi and meditation now that I have changed from walking to running. So I came up with a solution. I rested for a short time between running and Tai Chi. Then I took another short rest between my Tai Chi and my meditation. But neither resting periods were long enough to let me get caught up doing something else, so that I moved smoothly from running to rest to Tai Chi to rest to meditation. I saw the problem, found the obstacle, figured out a solution, and implemented it.

It sounds simple, and it was. Maybe this kind of logical problem solving isn’t for you. That is fine. This can be done intuitively too. The point is, to find what is blocking you from doing what you intend, and figuring out how to remove that obstacle.

I’d love to see some comments with examples of this process from your experience.




2 responses to “Intentions and Obstacles

  1. I’ve also neglected regular meditation practice in favor of chanting/reciting and reading suttas. Being married and having two children, with no one in the family sharing my spirituality, tends to put pressure on time, so I kinda made a tactical choice on what I wanted to prioritize.

    I hope you get back to your meditation practice since it is clearly important to you. Maybe someday I’ll feel like I can get serious about it as well. Be well, friend. 🙂

    • Sometimes life is that way. You have to prioritize. And sometimes because of circumstances you have no choice but to place spiritual practice lower on the list than you would like. In my opinion, meditation doesn’t just mean “seated meditation”, although that is part of my practice. I believe you can meditate while walking, doing the dishes, or something like Tai Chi (which I consider a “moving meditation”). Since you don’t have a lot of time to sit and meditate, why not try adding some mindfulness practices into things already built into your schedule? Just a thought.

      I am back on track with my meditation, thanks for your support and your comment. Look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

      Peace to you.

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