Sit your ass down, already…and other thoughts on meditation
To self: I will eat this toast with homemade cashew butter, and endeavor to do just that, and only that. No checking email, no reading the paper. Just simply stand, and eat. And taste.
I didn’t get very far before my hands reached for the tv remote (put it DOWN, now! My head belatedly hollered). Then I found my hand reaching for my Iphone (the phonecall to Mom can WAIT!, I suddenly thought, and mentally slapped my hand away.) Then I found myself wandering across the room to go check on the cat (the damn cat is FINE, I caught myself, now just stand still!)
Apparently, I cannot even get through one piece of toast without my mind – and body – running off in six different directions.
This is a sobering thought, as it illuminates something frightening: What is happening for the vast majority of the time when I’m not actually trying to stand and just eat a piece of toast? How much compulsion is daily pouring through my body and mind that I simply go along with (reach for remote, Iphone, cat, etc?). When actions are done before I even realize that they’ve happened? If I have to do some serious focusing just to stay in one place, then what’s going on when I’m not paying so much attention?
I do not have any glorious, pithy wisdom to offer up here. I obviously spend a great deal of time in the throes of my subconscious urgings and only occasionally make it above water to look around at the scenery. But the experience did remind me of a suggestion in the Yoga Sutras, which I’ve been cruising through lately. The Sutras, a series of terse aphorisms compiled back in 200 CE or so, basically throw down the meditative wisdom of the time. Most yogis are familiar with the second Sutra which declares that “Yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind.” Here’s another that is particularly piquant (translation by Carlos Pomeda):
Sutra 1.13: tatra sthitau yatno’bhyasa
“Practice is the effort to remain there.”
Basically, Patanjali is saying that we need to just sit down already and eat our cashew butter covered toast. Do one thing at a time. Stay “there.” In that space. Can we sit in our stuff? Literally and metaphorically? And not go wandering after the damn cat?
Doing our yoga doesn’t always have to involve incense, candles, and a meditation cushion. We can do it right now, simply by trying to anchor ourselves in doing one thing at a time.
Eat Toast. Then call Mom. Then pet cat. Rather than eat/talk/pet.
A revolution of non-multi-tasking.
So here’s to sitting our asses down, already.
And just taking a moment.