Anytime you pursue a meditative practice, you are making a commitment to understand yourself more fully as a spiritual being. This takes time. Be patient with your practice. ~James van Praag
This past Saturday afternoon, I put my garden to bed for the season. It has served me so well for many months, producing a seemingly endless supply of whatever I planted, and I had the sense of wanting to nourish it and put my energy and love into it to tide it over until next Spring when I could do it again. I dug up the old spent plants, raked in a layer of manure to replenish the soil and had the neighbor kids help dump leaves by the armful over the fence for a good layer of insulation. As I finished spraying the garden with water to help it all soak in, I savored how good it felt to let go of the old and make room for the new.
As it is with gardens, the new can't and won't even be available until a whole winter of frigid days and nights from now. Nothing I can do can speed things along. I need to be patient and to wait. If I expect it any sooner than it arrives -- in its own time -- I will be frustrated, disappointed and angry.
After I cleaned up from my outdoor chores, I sat down to meditate. Even after a beautiful day of fresh air and hard work, I was restless. Thinking more about the garden, I was distracted by what I might plant next year. Back to the breath, I reminded myself. A nice slow in and out breath and my mind was off to the races again. Had I given the soil enough of what it needed for the winter? Back to the breath, I reminded again. Frustrated and antsy, a thought showed up that has dominated every meditation session since:
Am I wasting my time?
Hmmm. Good question. Am I?
Anything's possible. But come on, it's only been two weeks. As my grandma likes to tell me, it takes at least 21 days to get used to something new. I have abided by this wisdom so many times in my life to my benefit that it is clear I have to give this at least three weeks.
That aside, it occurs to me that as a product of my culture, I want to see results now. Not a week from now, not nine months from now, but NOW. I want to know that all this time and energy is worth it. Instant gratification is the name of the game. We expect it. And if what we're doing comes up short, forget it. It's not worth our time. We are justified in jumping right into the next thing that promises a quick fix and instant results. We figure, the problem has to be with what we're trying and not with our mindset going into it, right?
Nothing can be considered a waste of time unless we're measuring some outcome -- or lack thereof -- against some expectation and it fails to measure up. So doesn't it follows that the problem isn't with what is, but with the fact that it may be different than what we want it to be? If I deem this meditation project a waste then maybe the failure is with me. Not because I haven't tried hard enough or haven't shown up every day...but because I've neglected to open to the possibility of what could be if I would slow down, be patient and suspend my idea of how this all is "supposed" to turn out.
What would happen if I brought that same hurried mentality to the garden? I would have thrown out the shoots before they had a chance to flower and bear fruit...and would have bought my produce from the grocery store so I wouldn't have to wait. What fun is that?
That, to me, is the waste...to be in such a hurry that we can't appreciate the creative process that allows Nature -- and us -- to change and grow and unfold to reveal who we are meant to become. There's beauty in the surprise of not knowing what's next. I don't ever want to miss that. Ever. That's the Good Stuff.
No one said it would be easy. Or fast. This path is certainly not about the quick fix. But it will happen...if we have faith and allow what will be to arrive. In its own way. According to its own schedule. And it will be imbued with beauty and wonder all its own.
So if I need to endure some restlessness and distraction, if I need to suspend my expectations and ideas of what and when and how, so be it. Thanks for the reminder. We'll call it part of the process...and wait and see.//