I first meditated almost two years ago. At first it was a purely an attempt to gain control over an immune system out of control and stress consuming my life. I experienced an immediate change in my health and was able to get off a lot of prescription meds soon after with the help of vitamins and supplements.
For almost a year afterwards meditating was something I did sporadically as needed, when I had time for it. It was an exercise in self-help. While I continued to derive health benefits from the practice, the principles, and natural vitamins, I didn’t take it seriously.
About 9 months ago I began sitting with more regularity, at least weekly. When I picked up Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Happiness in January of this year, it gave me tools to deepen the practice and engage it more fully.
I began sitting for several times a week until I was sitting everyday by the end of the 28 day journey through the book. By the time I finished the book mindfulness was no longer just something I did sitting on a cushion in the corner. I began practicing mindfulness throughout my day. I continued the practice since February, sitting almost daily with a few exceptions. I also learned not to beat myself up for missing a day or getting off course.
A month ago I decided to go through the 28 days of Real Happiness again and made a serious commitment to sit at least 20 minutes a day everyday from now on. This practice became much easier with the support of my wife and kids who recognized it was here to stay, and I hope also saw that I was more pleasant to be around as a result.
The second 28 days has just ended, and I have really enjoyed the journey. There were several not so pleasant moments on the cushion such as dealing with a monkey mind, difficult emotions, or sleepiness, but I had discovered a way to work with those moments so that even they were included in my practice.
While I intended to just sit at least once a day, I quickly found myself sitting twice a day most days of the week. It was no longer something I had to make time for. It was something I truly wanted to do, and it began to feel more and more like the path that felt right for me.
This is how I came to the practice of meditation or how the practice came to me. It’s something that I have committed to continue and make a regular part of my life. The challenge is “taking the practice off the cushion,” seeing how it affects everyday life, and trying to practice mindfulness and lovingkindness in each of those moments. I don’t always get it right, but at least I’m aware and awake for perhaps the first time. When I blow it, I can always start over and just begin again.