These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Self / Soul & Text] The Meditation Practice

Posted on February 7, 2012 by David Bogomolny

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He was sitting at a cafe in Jerusalem, typing on his laptop. He had meditated for only the third time ever that same evening, and he was ready to write about the experience, but he wasn’t sure where to begin.

He was overwhelmed.

Life had changed for him recently, and change, especially drastic, transatlantic, soul-searching change was challenging. But the change wasn’t overwhelming in and of itself; he was overwhelmed by his personal investment in this endeavor. He was overwhelmed because he cared.

The meditation practice that he had attempted included several steps – one of which was to focus upon personal improvement, considering one discrete character trait during each session. Twice, he had focused upon his impatience, and on his third attempt he had encouraged himself to let go – to let go of his expectations, his internal critic, his intense feeling of overwhelmedness.

His tendency, really, was to talk about pretty much every feeling he had. The idea of taking a class that required him to share his feelings was liberating for him, but it was also unnerving – unfettered feelings often led to pitfalls. Thoughts, upon articulation, had a tendency to become more convincing, regardless of their merits.

Actually, one particularly pleasant aspect of the meditation practice had been that it had remained entirely in his mind. He hadn’t been trying to make an impression upon anybody, and he’d approached the exercise with an open heart. Of course, this also meant that he wasn’t entirely sure about the results.

His first attempt, in class, had nearly put him to sleep. Other than being aware of continuously dosing off, he hadn’t gotten much out of it…

Other than pausing to acknowledge his thoughts… and… his increased awareness of his passing breath upon the tip of his nose. In an odd way, he had come to feel more atune to his body because the tip of his nose was no longer irrelevant to him. Still, his practical mind was skeptical – sure, sensing the tip of his nose was a new experience, but… so? What substantive change would this effect in his life?

And without tangible results, the meditation practice had been a bit of a disappointment for him… although he had to admit that this was most likely a matter of his impatience – meditation had stilled his mind and helped him relax… and with time & commitment, perhaps he would get more out of it in the future. The frustration he felt had to do with the steps of the practice – being new to meditation, he had difficulty guiding himself through it, and he couldn’t quite describe the experience in much detail.

“Of course,” he thought, “that might be a good thing.”