I have been meditating for more years than I have been working at a job (which is a long time) but still it’s not easy for me to do it. When I wake up in the mornings the last thing I want to do is meditate. I would rather make myself a cup of coffee and read my book or write. But every morning, with a head filled with some degree of consternation, I drag my heavy body out of bed, put on my flip-flops and walk out to my writing/painting/meditation studio, which is in the backyard of my home. I sit down on my meditation cushion (still dressed in the clothes I slept in and with hair disheveled), cross my stiff legs, put my hands on my thighs, set my timer for twenty minutes and once again shut my eyes.
The moment my meditation starts I notice that my brain is already filled with thoughts. How could this be? I am not even half way awake yet! But in order to avoid getting caught up in my peripatetic thought process, I start counting my breaths: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0 (repeat three or four times).
Once I have acclimated my mind to stay focused on my breath, more so than my thoughts, I stop counting. I breathe in and out. Thoughts come in and thoughts go. Sometimes there is an insistent thought that demands my full attention but if I stay with the breath, the insistent thought fizzles away like salt vapor into the morning air. Breathe in and breathe out. This is what I do for twenty minutes.
While I am focused on my breathing, I also notice various sensations in my body and I try to stay aware of the sounds that I am hearing. The sounds of water splashing around in a pond outside my studio door. The sounds of birds reciting poetry in the trees. The occasional dog barking discourse and a lone rooster singing its song. By being present with my breath, the sounds that I am hearing and the sensations in my body I am sometimes able to reach a place where there is no separation between the things outside of me and the stuff inside of me. My ego goes limp. There is a sense of oneness (otherwise known as present moment awareness) and even though this sense of oneness is fleeting (there is always some thought trying to steal me away from it) it’s the reason why I pull myself out of bed every morning, sit my ass down on the cushion and meditate.