I have been meditating on and off since 2011. So for four years now I have taken time out of certain days to sit down and contemplate my breath. There have been periods where I have been diligent with my practice; there have also been times, more recently, where I have not considered my practice whatsoever.
I cannot pinpoint the inception of my practice to any one moment. I do know that it was spurred by my usage of psychoactive species and a foray into philosophy. The summer before Copenhagen I distinctly recall spending many mornings waking up and practicing out in my unkempt backyard. Copenhagen was an experience of its own. I recall stopping by the church on my way to and from class to take in a moment and contemplate my existence. I would practice meditating with Amina, urging Rooha to start hers, and discussing it with my students when I was a teacher. I remember sitting in the church at Loyola’s campus before my first day of teaching with extreme anxiety. I meditated and considered my situation. I meditated all along my trip to South America, whether it be in the hostels or on Machhu Pichu. I meditated after I quit medical school. I read the eBook written by the former Google engineer. I still remember how those thoughts, and the affirmation of life that it called for, struck me that day.
My meditation has evolved cosistently since its birth. I have tried different approaches with different levels of success. I have tried walking meditation, lying meditation, sitting meditation with different posture and limb orientation. My favorite position is sitting cross legged with my palms on my knees facing up. My favorite approach to watching my mind is to focus on my breath, catch myself becoming distracted, and to then guide my mind back to the breath.
When I practice often there are recognizable changes in my mental state. I am relaxed and aware. I take in the movements of life with grace. Most importantly, I am present. This is true, however, only if I make consistent effort over time. Actually, as I think about it, even a single session has the capacity to improve my mood. Yesterday, I meditated again after many weeks. I felt much larger than my body. My presence overflowed into the room and expanded perhaps several meters in every direction. It didn’t end at any point either. It only dissipated to a point where I could not tell where the world began and I ended. It also leads me to live in a more focused way; I pay attention to my interaction with others more.
There are profound moments associated with my meditation practice. How can I forget what it felt like to be on top of the world in Machu Pichu? How can I dismiss how I felt the night I walked to the park near my house in a thunderstorm and embraced my love for life. I have derived so much pleasure and value from my practice that I’m emberassed I’ve fallen off. I think, a catalyst to my falling off was my attempt at gamification. I aquired an app that would monitor how often I would meditate. I got into it. I would go for days at a time and tried my best to have a 100% success rate for an entire month. Though, I never succeeded it also made me lose interest. It made me view meditation as a game to be won rather than a cumulative effort to be reaped over time.