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It began with the purchase of my iPhone, this new bad habit. The cold weather, this cold apartment and my laptop encouraged me. I began to love curling up under the blanket and surfing in the hour before sleep. And if I woke in the night, which I do sometimes, I’d pick up the phone or the computer and surf again. When the harp sounded on my iPhone alarm in the morning, guess what? Out came the laptop. I just needed to know if Matt’s gig in Oxford was a success, if it was snowing in Michigan or if I could chat with a friend in Nevada I’ve never met.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve a stack of books next to my bed, too. And sometimes I even read them. I jest. Of course I read. Since ditching the cable and television I’ve had plenty of time to read. But it’s clear to me this new bad habit is filling the gap those ten-year-old episodes of “That 70’s Show” once held.
If I really want to quiet Monkey Mind and to have a life long, transformative meditation practice, then I need to break this new bad habit and begin a new good habit.
Here’s where I’ve gone wrong:
Rather than dedicating the same time each day to practice, I’ve been fitting it in when I can – four or five days a week, ten or twenty minutes at a time. The only dedicated periods of meditation are the forty-five minutes a friend of mine and I take prior to a yoga class we attend and the hour of practice I enjoy on Thursday evenings with a local Daoist Meditation Group (I’m new to this group and have only attended twice. Still, it feels as though I’ll continue indefinitely).
I don’t want meditation in my life as something I practice on a whim. Meditation should be who I am, not something that simply hovers around me.
Fortunately, I have a mentor who is gently guiding me in the right direction. He’s the teacher who recommended Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation to me – a book I’m now recommended to anyone who is on a path similar to mine.
Last night my mentor gave me the gift of a mantra. He said it would change my life. He said it would settle me (how did he know I was unsettled?) and that if I repeated this mantra each day very soon nothing would ever again ruffle my feathers (how did he know my feathers were ruffled?).
Seriously. All that from one word? Almost less than a word – my mantra is one single syllable. He’s telling me one single sound can change my life?
I surfed before sleep last night. And when I dreamed about earthquakes I woke and checked the USGS website.
But when my iPhone’s harp began to play this morning I swung around, placed my feet flat on the floor and set the timer for thirty minutes. I let my hands rest on my lap, right hand nestled in the left with my thumbs touching and I closed my eyes. And then, for one hundred and eight rounds, I began to repeat…