My psychic powers are pretty much limited to knowing what I’m going to have for lunch, though sometimes I’m wrong about that.
I can’t fly. I can’t levitate. I can’t read minds.
I’m not even close to being enlightened.
When I started practicing meditation, I had all kinds of ideas of what it would be, and what would happen, and who I would become.
At the very least, sitting on my cushion every day was going to make me happy. Because meditation makes you happy, right?
Most of what I imagined wasn’t true and I thought of myself as a failure for a long time. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t free of stress or anxiety.
I felt like a fake.
I was sitting on my cushion, Damnit! I was sitting on it every day.
I know how long I sat because I set a timer. It was a meditation timer, too, with chimes, and bells, and gongs, and stuff.
And I felt like my practice was strong and consistent. I felt like I was putting in the work. It wasn’t until I experienced a string of life’s normal disappointments and sadnesses that I learned what the practice is and what it’s not.
I found that living my life is the real practice, showing up for the day to day stuff. This is Buddha’s teaching in real time, in real life.
It’s not herbal tea, or incense, or prayer beads, or trinkets.
It’s not a studio filled with chicks in yoga pants.
It’s not a guru’s secret teaching. It’s not a deity with a name I can’t pronounce because I’m tragically suburban.
It’s loneliness. It’s hunger. It’s the cramp in my leg. It’s the sunshine on my face.
It’s the broken heart, the empty space, and the headache from grinding my teeth. It’s the full bladder while I’m stuck in traffic, again.
It’s the happy, fun memories that sprinkle in amidst the pain of loss.
It’s an ending. It’s a beginning.
It’s putting my dog to sleep.
It’s adopting a puppy and watching him explore the world, wagging his tale, wagging everything. It’s walking with him in the winter when it’s too damn cold and in the summer when it’s too damn hot.
It’s a breath of spring.
The practice is an ex that you wish well, even though that hurts sometimes.
It’s someone that you pine over, even though that someone doesn’t know.
It’s a bad habit that needs breaking.
It’s new way of looking at things.
It’s trading one cage for another and then another, only to realize I’ve been free all along.
It’s hurting and realizing I’m not the only one.
It’s happiness that circulates, and swirls, and fades.
It’s misery that passes.
It’s joy. It’s peace. It’s life and death.
It’s making a commitment to myself, and some days breaking it, and feeling that.
It’s cheap-ass socks pinching my toe inside my shoe.
It’s the sound of a mountain stream and the sound of the ice in my glass.
It’s being surprised by basic human kindness from the most unexpected of people.
It’s presence, and noticing, and getting distracted, and noticing that.
It’s starting again.
This post was originally published on the author’s website JamesWrites.com and is republished here with his permission.
More by author James Gummer here on The Good Men Project:
OCD can be a tricky animal.
He knows a woman who’s awesome, but they don’t talk anymore.
Strong, powerful, without regret—why have we delegated these characteristics to men (and only men) after a breakup? James Gummer gets us off the couch.