This is my third year participating in the meditation challenge and the first year that I’ve had a dedicated meditation space in my room. It’s a small wooden stool with beeswax candles in a bowl and incense in a box below. There’s a large square pillow that sits beneath a round one, enough lift to put my hips above my knees.
The space was inspired by a meditation retreat (my first meditation retreat) last August where sitting actually took me by surprise and I touched a part of myself that felt open, clear, and ready. In Sharon’s post for the first week of Meditation Challenge 2015, she defines concentration as a “steadying or settling” that focuses the energy of anxiety, allowing us to gently let go of tense, predictive thoughts again and again. The August retreat allowed me to touch this place outside of my thoughts; a constant calm that feels ready for the experience that comes in each moment.
So…where exactly is my practice now? Well, I took a break in January from the regularity that the retreat initially activated. I needed a break, perhaps, to remind myself why I practice, to remind myself that it actually does something. And so, February is a reintroduction month, to a practice I know is important, but I often neglect and talk myself out of…especially when I’m scared of experiencing what might come up in those quiet moments alone.
As I work past these distractions, more than any other year, this year is also centered around community. I’ve recently prioritized connecting with practitioners around the city to talk about noise, frustrations, fear, and perceived success in our practices. So, this is what I’m looking forward to (and ready for!) in February 2015 on the first night of the challenge…the Sunday sits and the blog posts that expand the practice beyond “right way” and “wrong way” to really dig in and explore the process with others.