Meditation practice has always been about resilience for me. From the very first session, that aspect of it is the first thing one encounters — as soon as you settle into your posture, you realize, “Oh. I’m going to be here a while, and I’m already tired of it. How am I going to last 14 more minutes?”
At first, meditation may feel like merely withstanding the desire to stop meditating, but the challenges quickly multiply beyond that: physical discomfort, distraction, overwhelming feelings. And there are still nine entire minutes left!
After hanging in there a while, it becomes clear that these challenges are always available, whether one is sitting or not. That’s when gratitude for the practice starts to kick in, when one realizes that it’s resilience training for real situations. When Trungpa rinpoche teaches that “the situations of life start to become your guru,” this is how I understand it. One learns from the practice how to learn from each moment of one’s life.
As one begins to see patterns in those moments and one’s reactions, one can develop more skillful responses, which make one more resilient. It can be dangerous to speak of there being a “point” to meditation, but to me, it seems pretty safe to say this is one. I’ll speak for myself, but one of the primary reasons I meditate is to become more resilient now, so I can be ready for inevitable, ever greater challenges soon.
Walking with my soul brother, Adam, yesterday, we discussed whether the personal resilience available in meditation practice might have political importance. If you could change just one variable in how human beings get along, what would it be? I think I might choose resilience.