Making Peace with Meditation
By Sian Gordon, January, 2012
No one likes to meditate. Certainly not in the beginning. Maybe if you’ve been living in a Himalayan cave for the last twenty years without a modern mind that flips and dips and cries out: “Laundry!” “Have to call her back!” “I don’t like his sweaters.” “I want new sweaters!” Then I can see the ease in meditating.
Fortunately/unfortunately, I don’t live in a cave. I grew up and currently live on the Upper East Side in New York City, a place where relationships, consumerism, and mani/pedis are the currency. I also grew up with a father who meditated every morning, come rain, shine, sleet, possible bankruptcy, and the death of family and friends. Although his chanting somewhat terrified me as a tot, low and behold, I found myself doing the same damn thing as an adult, just not as well.
My dad taught me that my happiness wasn’t coming from a new sweater or the color of my nails; that if I wanted happiness, I’d have to sit down and learn to meditate. The problem was that I didn’t want to. There’s nothing harder than doing something you don’t want to do, that no one is holding you accountable for, that provides no immediate reward or benefit and more than likely will give you foot cramps.
In Vedanta, we learn about the idea of nonduality, which essentially teaches us that the notion that we are separate from anything or anyone is an illusion. I’ve seen this manifest in my own life on many levels, from the gross to the minute, but mostly in that we all have a common and basic desire. In some, that desire burns bright and hard and we can recognize it through their actions and the sparkle in their eyes. In others, the desire has been covered by life’s challenges. Beneath that, we all have a basic desire to be happy.
My dad once said, “Love is a choice.” The possibility of finding that perfect someone who happens to be a brain surgeon, a supermodel, and who understands you and loves you completely is a pipe dream. One day, you just pick someone and you love them, come rain, shine, sleet, near bankruptcy, and even death.
In my struggle to sit and be still, I’ve found that meditation is very much like this. I’m never going to want to do the things that are difficult and challenge me and that give me foot cramps, but in the past year of my life, I made the choice that I have no choice. Making money, buying things, going to a movie and repeating the cycle simply has not ever made me happy. At least not for more than eight seconds. So until I am able to figure out a different formula, I get up every morning, swig my cold herbal tea, splash my face and then I sit.