50 Days of Meditation: Day 17

I’ve been thinking about applying a new method to my practice. Rather than try to have the best meditation every day, I will meditate daily with the expectation of having a great meditation once a week. By doing this I temper my expectations. When I lower my expectations I am more pleased with the results, but I do not forgo the ultimate expectation of advancing in my practice.

The days that benefit me most are the really deep days when I break new ground and go farther than I have before. The other more ordinary meditation days are really only in service of these great days. My hope is to consciously embrace this pattern as a method for my practice.

Every time I go deeper than ever before it brings up the quality of my ordinary daily meditations. Conversely, when I try to make every day a great day I get tired, lose focus, and ultimately experience fewer great days.

I think of the analogy of physical fitness: You work out every day, but you don’t break records every day. Your daily workouts are in service of record-breaking days. These record breaking days raise the new bar for your overall practice, and your overall practice supports your growth into new territory.

I’m noticing that the effects of the really great day I had on day 14 are still with me. No amount of regular daily sitting is a substitute for a moment of clarity like that. I’m hoping to harness the power of these intermittent great days by consciously letting my daily meditations peak and trough.

On a more physical note, I have come to notice that I tense a spot in my torso about three inches below my solar plexus as I go about my day. When I hold tension there I feel it spread through my neck, face and head. It is related to what I was feeling on day 15. When I relax it, I feel everything else relax. I notice I tense this area throughout the day, especially when talking to other people or performing regular tasks. I’m tensing it to a small degree as I write this.

As I noted on day 13, I flex there to protect myself. When I relax that spot I feel very vulnerable. But I have been forcing myself to relax to to see what will happen. When I relax it I instantly see that the tension is an attempt at control. I feel like I’m in control when I tense there. When I relax that spot I feel out of control, but I notice an enormous increase in effectiveness – much in keeping with the martial arts analogy from day 12.

The tension feels like resistance. The tension reminds me that I am not in full agreement with whatever is happening. If I let it go, I feel will-less and complacent. It’s as if acceptance is offensive to me because it makes me feel ineffectual. But I notice that when I relax this center even when I feel like tensing most, I double my nonphysical effect on people and situations.

Sometimes I feel like I have to sit too still in the company of others to accomplish this, but as I said on day 13 I am done hiding, safeguarding and resisting. Once relaxation is a habit it won’t require the conscious effort it requires now.

I really feel like I’m giving up control to alleviate this tension. Giving up control is a negative action; I need to replace it with positive content. So when I’m not being in control, what am I doing? I’m having faith. I’m accepting what is and substituting faith for control.

I hypothesize that people want to feel like they are impacting you. When they read complete relaxation in your countenance they feel powerless – you are not reacting to them. But at the same time they are witnessing real power in you. They question themselves because they feel lacking in power, and notice you because you exude it.

You do no favors by hiding your inner light. Let is shine so that others may see it. Let them question themselves. Let them question you. Be an example of inner peace. Be stillness in motion and inspire the same in others.

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