Some more thoughts on: A) the common perception of meditation, B) the 5 minutes twice-a-day practice prescribed in the Chapel curriculum, and C) the 30-60 minute traditional Buddhist breathing meditation practice. A) the superficial perception of meditation by a person just a little curious and trying it out is that it’s something you do in seeking a reprieve from stress/pain/etc similar to a vacation, time off work, hug, massage, etc. So it’s a way to obtain comfort. B) the Chapel practice of short meditations can help you overcome laziness since you only have 5 minutes to get still, but in general the purpose is to use your ability to create a steady and sensitive mind in order to practice other skills and generally live with more awareness. So you need to be comfortable in order to succeed in creating that. C) The lengthier practice where you allow your circle of awareness to remain open and hold your attention steady despite initially overwhelming distractions and disturbances is a confrontation with yourself. It’s opposite your instinct to seek comfort. Here we are training ourself, learning how to be comfortable with our discomfort. There are many layers of discomfort: physical like exercise, waking up early, eating; emotional like starting a new job, quitting a bad relationship; mental like public speaking, an exam or job interview; or our values like a career change, cross-country move, or grieving a death. It’s natural to grieve change (a death, a job, a relationship, money, etc) but we cling so tight that we get stuck on it. By facing it and creating peace we can get over it and move on with our life. This is true during an hour’s meditation practice as well – can you set aside your discomfort/trauma/story-line temporarily? Remember habits are comfortable, so when you go outside that circle (by choice or not), you have to face the discomfort. They say that post-satori practice (after the surprise of experiencing jhana for the first time) is moreso a welcoming of pain, embarrassment, difficulties that come to us in life as opportunities to create peace and comfort. There’s plenty to practice with. So as we start meditation, consider the easy circumstances you can arrange but don’t be obsessive about creating comfortable conditions because you can transform the experience.

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