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.

© 2012, 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.

  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.

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