I consider myself to be a reasonably serious meditator. I’ve taken the time to look deeply at my mind, with varying degrees of intensity, for going on twenty years now. I’m still no kind of expert, but I have noticed a few significant changes for the better. One big difference is that I find meditating to be less effort and more fun.
I was thinking about that as I drove home today after meditating with Kristine Zakarison and two other friends this afternoon, and I thought it might be a good subject for her blog.
One reason I have more fun meditating now is that I’m no longer imposing so many expectations on what I should experience. In the early days, I expected that by watching my breath and being aware of my thoughts I should be able to make the thoughts go away, or at least reduce them enough to produce a calm state of mind. If I didn’t manage that I gave myself a mental scolding. “Bad meditator!” I said. “Bad!”
I also thought I should never fall asleep, squirm on my cushion or fantasize about food. (Honestly, I remember a week-long retreat when I couldn’t seem to quit visualizing bell peppers. Go figure.) I had a long list of things I could do wrong.
Over the years, I have let that go (at least to a large degree). Each morning I approach my meditation with curiosity. “What will my meditation be like today?” I ask myself. “Will I relax into the joy of pure consciousness or will I feel like I’m half crazy?” It’s fun to see what turns up! I simply try to perceive what is present without identifying with it. All kinds of mental phenomena (or the lack of it) comes and goes.
I didn’t tell myself to quit having expectations and judgments. It just happened naturally over time. And, here’s what was surprising to me: the less I tried to force a sense of well-being into my meditations, the more it arose naturally on its own. I had made friends with the experience! Now, whether I struggle to stay awake, fight an urge to plan my grocery list, come up with a brilliant insight, acknowledge some worry, or sit in blessed awareness of the present moment, I consider it a privilege to live the adventure.
I love to share words from others about why you value your practice, and how you manifest your practice in your daily life. I share some words Marji Neill shared with me, along with an image of where Marji meets herself/her spirit:
It was great being with you in class today! I’ve missed seeing everyone. I had to chuckle when you were talking about being mindful, slowing down, and making eye contact. Lots of thoughts came to my mind. I do not have many natural talents [editorial note from KZ: this is not true!], but for whatever reason, complete strangers have always opened up to me. My girls noticed this when they were young and it is something that drives my husband nuts. When we are out, and I speak with total strangers, he will often ask, “Do you KNOW that person?” Growing up with an “always be busy, busy, busy” mentality, I tend to walk briskly, but I like to smile and greet anyone I see. This has led to a ton of “little while friends” and fun conversations. Also, it seems like my guardian angel or spirit guide (or whatever energy is helping me through life on earth), likes to draw my attention to wildlife at just the right moment, and it’s been a fun part of my life. Lately I’ve noticed I’m not walking as fast. It made me wonder if I was holding back to not irritate my cranky knee (chronic), or if I am just getting older. But, you gave me hope that maybe I am finally understanding that if I zoom through life with my head down, I will miss a lot. After all, I want to know how that wild turkey family with seeming limited good sense, is doing!”
Sept 29, 2015
Nia has an active, international, online community. I was struck by this recent post by Irit Orr. Those of us choose Nia do so for many different reasons. We love the community aspect of dancing together, we use it as our form of fitness, we dance beause it’s fun, in dancing, we experience joy and express ourselves. Here, Irit shares her reasons.
“Thanks for moving to heal – NIA. This method helps me move forward during hard and sad days. It embraces me gently and helps me move on with harmony and respect to the situation. On easy flowing days this movement helps me reach heights, reach depths, and reach new dimensions. I fell in love with moving to heal. I exercise couple of times a week, and can’t wait to the next teacher training course with Debbie Rosas.”