I’ve been taking meditation seriously the last few months.
In its most basic sense, meditation is just staying put. It’s not drifting off to sleep (though this sometimes happens, and when it does, it probably means you’re not getting enough sleep), it’s not emptying your mind of all thoughts (this is impossible, in my experience), it’s not even reaching some kind of nirvana or intellectual heaven or bliss.
Meditation is just staying put with where you are right now. And then just staying there.
Meditation is about abiding, about stability, and when things get uncomfortable where you are, noticing that things are uncomfortable, and then staying in that discomfort.
So, meditation isn’t like, allowing yourself to get sunburned — staying put in the discomfort of beating-down-sun — but allowing yourself to get irritated at noises, or get frustrated with the itch on your arm, or get pissed off at the way your mind keeps making that same damned grocery list. And when you feel yourself getting irritated, frustrated, pissed off, distracted, saying to yourself — perhaps even out loud! “I feel pissed off.”
Huh. So, you’ve said it. And what happened? If you decided not to move or change anything about your body in that moment, nothing has happened. You’ve acknowledged the annoyance and just trudged along with what you were doing, you decided not to be defeated by the itch, or the noise, or the grocery list.
And as we do this over and over, day by day, our not-get-defeated muscles get stronger, and they get not as distracted or frustrated by itches or lists or noises.
And what does this mean for our lives?
It means that when there are noises in your home or life (like, living with little kids), they don’t bother you as much. When there are people who make you feel itchy, you aren’t as upset about them and their words and their itchiness. When there are distractions in your work or relationships or travel or life, you’re better able to ignore them and keep on with what you want to be doing.
It also means that when in your life you are tempted to throw up your hands and go home, to cut off a relationship, or to walk out, think again — wonder if you might be leaving just when you’re being taught something, just when you are being asked to sit with something uncomfortable, just when God is about to transform you by your relationships with others.
Listen to the new perspective, be curious about your resistance. Sit with the person who annoys you, wonder where that annoyance comes from in yourself. Spend time with the group who frustrates you, walk in their shoes and look through their eyes.
God in Jesus Christ came and listened, he came and sat, he came and spent time. Humans are made for relationship and we are called to do the same.