Every time I meditate, I feel grateful to have this spiritual practice — and hobby, for that matter — that requires no money, no tools, no books, no drugs, no travel or meetings, nothing but my time. I’m wary of dependencies, and I already have so many dependencies in my life that it’s reassuring to have meditation as this one strong thread of independence.
It’s not complete, radical independence, which may not even exist. Indeed, I’m dependent on all kinds of people and things in my life just to have the one ingredient of meditation: time. And I’m not even talking about all the other people, systems, and forces that provide me with food, clothing, and shelter to survive. If it’s even possible to have independence from that in the world anymore, I don’t think that independence is worth having.
The independence of meditation practice is a simple freedom of choice: Am I going to pay attention to this moment or not?
I’m grateful to have that choice because not very many choices about consequential things are that simple. Life is mostly made of fraught, exhausting choices. Even basic survival choices — Am I going to eat this bread? Am I going to eat this meat? — are totally loaded. But there’s no risk — no downside at all — to choosing to take one mindful breath. We only resist because it seems harder than succumbing to some baser impulse… but it isn’t. There’s nothing easier.
When you start to think of it in big blocks of time, like the ones you make on your calendar, then the choice starts to seem hard. But that isn’t the real choice. The choice is: This breath — yes or no? Next breath — yes or no? You can say yes to as many breaths as you want.