Seems important to circle back to the imperfect, unclean elements of the practice and life generally. To avoid idealizing anything. I take pills. So if I say anxiety is a tactic, that’s not absolute truth, but just an idea to try on. There is something to it.
Last night I took a klonupin. I don’t have to take those often, maybe once per month. I also take some daily psych meds. But I do feel more independent from the meds, in recent months, despite still using them. I have cut my dose in half for one of my daily meds. And I generally feel like if I got in a situation where I didn’t have my pills, I could get through it.
There are meditation slumps at times, etc. Oh, and I had a terrible news-addiction relapse recently, addiction to internet and my portable electronic devices. So there are still pitfalls and haggard times, despite all this meditation and reading of books.
It’s clumsy to speak of “slumps” and “off” and “good.” Buddhist meditation teachers discourage this kind of grading and just tell you that all meditation is meditation. Either you’re sitting and trying or you aren’t. And that’s true too. Everything gets included. But realistically, there are times when one has a feeling like “this is working, I’m in some kind of groove, I’m calm.” And there are other times where one is agitated and bored and it almost feels like you’re practicing being a bad meditator if you continue. If it really gets so bad and sloppy that I feel like I’m just practicing bad habits, then I might just shake that off one more time and try again, one last time. But then if it’s still not right I might just get up and stop sitting for a few minutes. Otherwise it could get to be almost adversarial, like “Goddamnit I’m going to keep sitting here until I’ve beat this.”
For me, often the best time to sit down and meditate is when some anxiety appears. Sometimes just a few seconds after it starts, when there’s still a vivid sense of how the feeling is different than the calm that preceded it. Then I can easily look right at the feeling. And so I meditate in place, or proceed to my preferred meditation station, almost hoping the anxiety won’t diminish before I get there.