- Jesse Irizarry
The Moment Of Real Practice
Meditation can be very difficult. We’re told to let go, but we have no instinct for it. We need to learn to understand it. And learning this takes a lot of time. Even after we’ve had the experience after consistent practice, it’s still a struggle to let happen each time we sit. It took me months and months and years of persistent practice to learn to not attach myself to thoughts while I sat in meditation. But before that, I needed to understand what it is I even needed to let go of. I didn’t know what it meant to let go or what should be let go. I had no clue I was attaching myself to thoughts and that I could do without this. I’ve used guided meditations and I’ve sat in silence with my own practice. Lately, I’ve been using a guided meditation app called Waking Up by Sam Harris. The suggestions and prompts he makes during the meditation have been very helpful. It’s been exactly what I’ve needed to keep my mind open and calm. At the end of one of the sessions I recently went through, he says that the moment of real practice is simply coming back. Your mind will for sure wonder and fixate on some thought at some point in meditation. You will identify with the thought itself as the thinker of it instead of just observing it and seeing it as something that merely arises. Whenever it happens, I get frustrated. Most everyone does. I start to think that I’ve wasted that time where I could have been going deeper into mediation. And now I have to start over. But there’s another way to think of this according to Harris. The realizing itself, that you were trapped in thought, believing it was coming from a thinker behind your eyes and the shift in your mind that this is something that just appears in consciousness and can be observed and not identified with, just as you would with a sound, is the real practice. The return, the coming back to this realization, to the anchor of noticing the breath or sounds or sensations in the body or just noticing everything that arises in consciousness without being a subject that sees or observes the objects, is the practice itself. It’s the real practice. In some ways, I think that this is just the ability to dissociate from your thinking mind, as often as it happens. And it will happen often. I wrote down what Harris said and started to think about how this connects in other actions and other practices. The state of mind that you can find in mediation is the state of mind and spirit you should take throughout your day with how you deal and relate to everything. When I think of my own creative practices I think of my writing, my Olympic weightlifting and strength and conditioning, my breath practices, my Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. I’ve gone through periods where I haven’t remain disciplined, particularly in areas I’ve been dedicated to for a longer time like writing and weightlifting. And I don’t mean to use the word discipline in a self-tyrannical way. It wasn’t that I missed a mark of perfection. There have been times I’ve just stopped. Or maybe I didn’t stop but I’d set hardly any time aside for it and what time I did leave for it was distracted and half-assed. I would often think that if I missed one or a few days that I’d have lost the momentum and that it would be wasted time. This somehow justified a self-sabotage of sorts and more time would pass before I’d pick up the work again. But I’ve been thinking how returning in meditation can change how I see the problem of missing days of other practices or feeling as if those days weren’t productive. I haven’t quite figured it out in everything I do. But I have noticed that I’ve written more consistently, more volume, and with more clarity, in this past year than I ever have. And the only difference I see is that I find myself returning. Each day, each week, I simply come back. And in this, I created real practice, finally, in this one thing. Even after I sit down, I am distracted by my thoughts, by my other lists of to-dos, by what others need and want of me. But I try to remember my mediation and remember that these are thoughts, they are not me. I can observe them and come back to my writing, to my real practice.