Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day by Day

Beginning on January 16 I'll be offering daily meditations on the internet for 38 consecutive days as part of the Winter Feast for the Soul. The meditations will be 40 minute recordings of short talks about meditation followed by meditation instructions and a period of silent time for meditating. The instructions will be progressive, beginning with how to meditate and then gradually progressing to some of the most advanced practices of the Insight Meditation/Theravāda Buddhist tradition.

The Winter Feast for the Soul was begun by Valerie Skonie, a woman in Idaho who was inspired by her own experience and by a verse of Rumi's to support others in developing a daily spiritual practice. The verse is:

What nine months does for the embryo
Forty early mornings
Will do for your growing awareness
—Jelaluddin Rumi

The Winter Feast will be doing one joint meditation session on the first day, Jan. 15, and another one on the last day, Feb. 23. Combined with my 38 meditations that will make 40. There are people from a number of other spiritual traditions also offering meditations for the "middle" 38 days.

I have to admit that offering 38 consecutive days of meditations is a big commitment. I did it last year too and there were days when I wondered if I would be able to complete it. Part of what kept me going was remembering the effect that daily practice has had on me.

I began meditating in 1987, I think, and began doing it on a daily basis shortly after I began. From the beginning there was something about meditation that appealed to me. Maybe it was the quiet time or the opportunity to just listen to my mind and heart for a while. Maybe it was just a peaceful way to begin days that were filled with the demands of a young family and hours of doing psychotherapy. But I also meditated every day because everything I read said that one should do it every day. So I did. I liked it, so it wasn't so hard. But it was hard giving up sleep time so that I could find the time to do it.

Over the years since then daily practice has carried me through the highs and lows of my life. It's been part of learning that Awareness is large enough to hold whatever comes. Daily practice has helped me integrate the insights gained during retreats and has helped me to see the challenges of life that were/are still a struggle for me. And daily practice has sustained me between the periods of intensive retreat practice.

I hope you'll join me in the banquet of daily practice during the Winter Feast for the Soul.