I’ve been having a hard time lately. Whether it’s my upcoming birthday or not, I don’t know. Maybe the need to fix everything in my life here and now and not having the ability to organize it all in my mind has been overwhelming and depressing me. Sleep has eluded me, and I have a general feeling of unwellness. I went to the barber the other day and had all of my hair cut off in a somewhat vain attempt at helping myself. My scalp has been breaking out in pimples. Whether my picking at it is stress-related, or there’s a real problem I don’t know. I’ll find myself picking at it, feeling the raw tissue, in a sort of mindless frenzy, as though I can pick away my problems and somehow underneath all of that I will find a real person.
I’ve been attempting to get my diet onto a juicing diet. Years ago when I tried this, I felt better than I have ever felt for a very long time. But nutrition articles and books convinced me that a juicing diet wasn’t good for me, so I left it, and have often regretted that.
So, my diet has been a bit haphazard, my ability to get a good nights sleep without cold and flu meditations has disappeared, and my knees are hurting me from my iliotibial band tightnesses. Straightening up my tai chi space, clearing my office out, and creating my bedroom into less of a WoW space and more of a conditioned space for meditation and sleep has been a huge chore, with my restriction of only being able to do a small amount every day before my body tires.
The other day Sensei, somehow sensing my sense of being unsettled, out of the blue, said “when you have a mountain of problems, don’t try to tackle them all at once. Take them one at a time.” He told me the story of eating rice with a friend of his.
As they talked, he took a grain of rice at a time and made a single line with the grains, slowly and methodically lining them up. His friend asked him what he was doing, and he said “I’m lining my problems up. How many grains of rice do you see?”
His friend counted the line and said “I see 30 grains.”
“Now how many do you see here?” He pointed to the pile in his bowl.
“I can’t count them,” was the reply.
I woke up this morning and decided to put all of my problems and to-do’s into a bowl and pull out my most important to-do, and not worry about all of the rest of the grains inside of my bowl.
Since sleep is a huge part of my ability to feel well, I think my bedroom needs to be more sacred and not a computer WoW gaming/sleeping room. I can’t move my computer out until my office is empty of the clutter and mess. I can’t clear out my office until I get the cabinets in my tai chi area downstairs straightened up and cleared.
So today my task is to take one thing at a time from my office down to the tai chi room, clear a small area in the tai chi room storage, and slowly move things that way.
People who teach meditation as just what happens on that meditation cushion are people who intuitively understand that the rest of life needs to be in place for that to be effective. My meditation will never be just about what happens on that cushion, because of the rest of my life doesn’t have the health to support a quality meditation experience. Lacking that support, I think, is why I’ve continually failed in the past at having meditation be a more permanent fixture in my life.
So, today I begin guiding my life, gently and forgivingly, towards creating the conditions so that I can eventually nurture a more favorable meditation experience.