I am often stretching myself to open to concepts that seem larger than my human brain can fully understand at the moment. Because of this, I have had to become conscious about actually integrating what I learn “in theory” into my own experience and then actually put it into practice in my life. If I skip this step, it can start to feel like what I am studying is separate from “real life.”
My clue that I have entered this space of separation, is that I start thinking about my life in separate segments. I have my school life, my spiritual life, my social life, my business life, my love life, etc. I feel overwhelmed trying “keep up” with each different segment rather than feeling into how they can support and complement each other.
While learning in a conceptual way holds much value, I have found that integrating theories or ideas into my everyday life in a practical way is where the real meat (or tofu) is. While I absolutely trust there is more going on in the universe than I can understand, most things don’t fully resonate with me until I have had some type of direct experience of them.
I have learned that the obstacles I encounter in my life are the same obstacles I work with on my meditation cushion. For a long time, I read and studied numerous books on the view of meditation. The view is the ‘why or intention’ behind the practice. It was actually many years before I went from studying meditation in a conceptual way to actually jumping in and sitting myself.
It was like I was studying how humans work through a window, while forgetting the perfect classroom has already been set up for me through my own experience.
Because habitual patterns thread through all the aspects of life, I can find numerous situations where I would much rather be thinking or talking about a topic, rather then actually jumping in and experiencing it. For example, at healing school I easily jumped into the lectures, the reading, and even the homework. When it came time to actually use the skills with another human at the healing table, I again felt the familiar heaviness of my resistance to the actual experience.
I think what brought me from studying to actually practicing meditation was finding community. Whether it is one person who I can connect with or a room full of meditation students, the support and inspiration I gained from community moved me from my pattern of ‘reading about’ to actually having my own ‘experience of’.
Not wanting to be alone with ‘our stuff’ often keeps people from meditation. The willingness to sit with oneself during practice is key to getting to know ourselves better. But so is having the opportunity to share insights, struggles, and questions with another.
I spent this morning with my co-teacher (and personal teacher), Rebecca going over the curriculum for an upcoming series we are putting together. We talked about the upcoming series and also talked about ways of bringing our practice from the cushion into everyday situations.
For me, our talk this morning served as a reminder that my meditation practice does not end when I leave my cushion or close my reading. My practice has become so much more than another theory. It permeates all areas of my life, in practical ways.
This is the integration piece I find so important. I still have days when the last thing I want to do is get on my cushion. I think about how nice it would be to curl up with a book and read about it instead. It is often when I have the support of community (whether talking one to one with Rebecca over fall flavored drinks or through a formal meditation class) that my commitment to my own practice and the direct experience of it is renewed.
If you would like to have the support of a group while learning to meditate and setting up a home practice, we have a new series starting October 29th in Worcester. We would love to have you. You can learn more by clicking on my events page.