When I left for the retreat two weeks ago, my daily spiritual practice had dwindled down to nothing. I felt okay, generally, and that became an excuse I would use not to put in any extra energy towards deepening and stabilizing my okayness through practice.
As I rebuild my home practice from the ground up, incorporating what I learned on the retreat, I’m feeling like I owe my practice an apology. All it has ever done is give to me, but in my resistance and reactions, I’ve repeatedly constructed stories about it that blamed it for my difficulties.
To stop sitting for one day, I never needed an excuse more complicated than, “You know what? I don’t want to sit today.” But to remain stopped, I needed something stronger — something like, “Meditation practice is hurting me.”
It’s amazing how elaborate my negative stories about meditation got. I clearly needed to convince myself I was doing the right thing — like, in a moral sense — by choosing to stop sitting. At its peak, the story was that sitting meditation came from a different religion than mine, and it wasn’t good to mix two religions together because… reasons.
Part of the story of this retreat, which I am in the process of writing, was how I unwound that story and rediscovered mindfulness meditation as a core Jewish spiritual practice. That rediscovery helped quiet my storytelling mind and reduce my resistance, but I’m finding that my reunion with my practice is even deeper than this new story. It’s beneath the layer of religion and identity. Meditating happens as close to my heart as thinking or feeling or knowing. It’s part of me, and I’m sorry for spurning it.