This morning was the first time since the retreat that I didn’t look at my watch once during my morning sit. I’m settling back in after the transition. But even though I didn’t check, I still thought about checking, and noticed I was thinking about checking. I always do.
The only reason I didn’t check my watch during the retreat was that I wasn’t wearing one. I think I relate to sitting practice, on some level, as an exercise in counting down until it’s over. There’s an associated feeling of accomplishment when the time is up — “Yes! I just sat for 30 minutes!” — as though I’ve deposited freshly earned meditation credits into my account at the karma bank.
I don’t hold too tightly to that feeling. I’m well aware my KarmaBucks are only redeemable as the price of admission to my own meditation cushion. I recognize this emotional reward as a positive motivation to practice, and that’s a good thing. I’m more concerned about the counting down.
Sitting for x minutes doesn’t seem ideal. I can always hear frustration in teachers’ voices when students like me ask, “How long should I sit each day?” Someday I hope I’ll just be counting up.
Ariel and I have a baby coming this year. Carving out 30 minutes every morning for sitting is not how this is going to work! My practice when the baby comes will be just to be present with the baby until the baby needs something, take care of the need, go back to being present, and repeat as many times as I can. That’s a counting up practice, and it seems much truer to life than these isolated islands of time we use to get started with meditation.