It’s Saturday. Monday and Tuesday I was depressed enough, and in such a way, that I didn’t want to meditate and I did not. For the first time since early May, two straight days without meditation. It seemed like a week. My depression was very bleak but not painful. And then on Wednesday I surprised myself by meditating, and it was good. I was still depressed but no longer wanted to harm the universe by ignoring meditation. But for two whole days, Monday and Tuesday and much of Sunday, I was not practicing. I didn’t want to read books or meditate. It was over. The whole thing was a sham. All these teachers and teachings seemed not good enough. Buddhism/meditation seemed like a nice try, but not adequate.
So I was surprised when I got back to it so easily on Wednesday. And then Thursday I had to cut myself off. I wanted to meditate a fourth time and sometimes you have to cut yourself off. Save it for the next day. Part of this is physical. It might not be ideal to sit much more than usual all of a sudden.
It reminds me of hiking. In hiking, especially by myself, there is a point after 35 minutes or so when it suddenly becomes effortless. Then it seems I could hike uphill for many miles quite easily without rest. In meditation there is sometimes a similar experience after maybe 15 minutes or so, though it is not quite as predictable as the hiking lift-off.
There’s a sense that the hike starts after about 35-40 minutes, and the meditation starts after 10-20 minutes. Tho this shouldn’t be assumed. Anyways it also starts immediately. Just like hiking starts immediately. And there is something good immediately at the beginning of the hike, even though I’m not floating yet.
Suzuki says to meditate like a patient frog. Trungpa says you’re a piece of sand. In meditation I often think to be a piece of sand.
“In five or at most ten minutes, your mind will be completely serene and calm. At that time your breathing will become quite slow, while your pulse will become a little faster.” — Shunryu Suzuki, writing in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, in the Mind Waves chapter. Before I read this, I had observed that my heart rate rises a little during meditation and I thought I might be doing something wrong. I’m not sure why he says “at most” ten minutes.