The month of sitting quietly (Life Experiment # 8)

“The limit of what we can accept is the limit of our freedom.”

These words from one of my Buddhist teachers have come back to me in recent days as I continue to wrestle with the various challenges that populate my life right now.

The most pressing issue confronting me is my need to find a new place to live, and friends have offered a number of amusing if improbable suggestions:

Put your stuff into storage, get an airstream trailer, and travel the country. 

Move into a house filled with kooky roommates, and then write about it.

These ideas make me smile, but even more they bring me face to face with the very real limits on what I’m willing to accept. I’m anxious about what lies ahead because of my own requirements. If I could make do with less or other, I’d be far less stressed out. This isn’t a judgment or self critique but simply an observation.

And that’s where I am right now, holding these facts in awareness:  If I could accept a lifestyle that I’m not willing to accept, I would have more freedom. I would be happier. I’m not trying to force a change in myself – that would be disastrous. This is simply about seeing and watching what happens.

Over the years, I’ve had a freighted relationship with Buddhist practices. I’ve always loved the teachings but struggled with meditation. Which is like saying you love food if you love cookbooks but dislike eating.

“I don’t know why I keep doing this when I find it so unpleasant,” I said to my teacher during a hellish 10-day silent retreat.

“Why do you do it?” She sounded genuinely curious.

The answer is I don’t really know.  But this is what I do.  I go long stretches thinking that I’m totally done with it all. Then, something happens to reel me in. I pull out my meditation bench.

That’s how it’s been for the past few days, and this time, uncharacteristically, I’m finding sitting restful.  It feels like the right thing for now. And so: I’m going to do it.

Copyright © Amy Gutman. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “The month of sitting quietly (Life Experiment # 8)

  1. Sitting meditation has always been difficult for me, too, which is why I love conscious dance and all forms of moving meditation. That said, I’ve begun a practice of 5 mini sitting meditations/day because it’s what feels absolutely necessary at this time. I trust in your self-wisdom, Amy, and know that all will be right in your world, wherever that may be.

    • 5 minutes often feels about right to me too. Running has been a thing for me too lately — first time ever I’ve found it helpful, no idea why it’s working now. In any case, always good to have an array of tools to draw on. :-)

  2. Learning to sit is a bitch. I visit the meditation center here in Houston several times a week for group meditations. I am always glad I went, but making the commitment to get there is another matter. Not to mention making the commitment to practice self-acceptance, or acceptance of life in general. My mind wants to confuse that with complacency and I just won’t allow complacency in my life.
    Love your blogs. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing your life story.

    • Thanks so much for reading. And I totally empathize re: the complacency / compassion confusion. Our minds are so hard on us sometimes.

  3. Well, dear, that plan dovetails nicely with what I am doing/not doing these days. I’ll be in town on Friday. Wanna sit together?

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