Meditation Takes Courage 


I hadn’t realized that it had been a few days since I wrote a post. A lot has been going through my head recently, and I guess I haven’t quite been able to articulate it the way I wanted to. That being said, this post will be less like a blog entry, and more like some musings on meditation that I’ve had over the last couple of days.

I’m still very new to all this. I’ve only been practicing for a few months now, and while I initially thought I had little or no preconceptions about the practice, I apparently do. I’ve realized that, at times, meditation can be really effing hard. Especially if you’re committed to taking your practice beyond the cushion. Meditation can be difficult, because it can show us things that we didn’t want to know about ourselves. Things that we’ve been hiding for years, decades even.

When I first began practicing with a group and listening to the words of a teacher, I heard a lot about courage. My teacher, Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche, is constantly talking about how courage and commitment is required to advance in the practice and to realize your true nature. At first that struck me as rather odd. Why do I need courage to practice meditation? How hard can it be?

Then I began practicing Guru Yoga. The practice of Guru Yoga helps you to see into the nature of your mind by meditating on the guru, Padmasambava, the lineage, and your teachers. I haven’t had any mind-blowing insights. What I have seen is the one thing I’ve refused to admit for years; I have a lot of fear in my mind. I’ve been held back by fear for most of my life. And, if I don’t learn how to work with my fear and let go of it, it could continue to control me.

Realizations like that are no fun. You just want to turn and run in the other direction. And you can run if you want, but you can’t hide, because when you get where you’re going, the first person you meet is yourself. And after you’ve had a realization like that, it’s hard to walk away from. You have to fix it. You have to change it. This must be what my teacher means when he says we have to have courage and commitment in our practice. We can learn to overcome our fears, but in order to do that we have to stick with our individual practices. We have to find what works for us and do it over and over again. There’s no running now. We have to stick it out to the end. No matter how hard it gets.

Meditation is like a mirror. It holds your life right up in front of your face and shows you everything, and refuses to let you ignore anything. When life is good and you’re making progress, meditation will show you that and make you want to practice even more. And when you life is a mess, meditation holds that mess right up in front of your face and asks, “Are you ready to do this? Are you ready to change? Are you ready to let go?”  That’s where the courage and commitment comes in. It takes courage to say yes, to leave the cushion and make the change happen. Conversely, I believe it takes just as much courage to admit that you aren’t quite ready yet. That you need more time. And that it’s okay to need more time and more practice. The prize is in the process. We’ll all get there eventually. We just need courage and commitment to our practice. Technically we already have it. We just have to take time to breath and find it within.

Again, these are just some random musings of mine. I’ll make sure that my next post is a bit more structured and blog-like. This is just what’s been on my mind. Until next time…

Happy meditating!

~Zack

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