The Magic of Showing Up

December 7, 2009

Last month, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time…I took a meditation class.  As someone with a plethora of ideas flowing in my head, I felt like I needed a calming influence. It was roughly ten years ago that I first meditated during a yoga class at my local YMCA. I had some great experiences during that time and I remember getting into my car after class not caring whether another driver wanted to cut me off. After all, I had just experienced deep inner peace.

This time around, I hoped that my five-week class would explore meditation in greater depth. I hoped for some big answers to all of my questions and all the “little tricks” that would help me find inner calm.

Our class was small…there were eight of us and we sat in a semi-circle on meditation cushions.  We faced a small altar and the swami who was teaching the class. There was a faint smell of incense from the other room. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little weird in this setting.

We started each session with a five or ten minute meditation including some prayerful chanting from the swami. I felt relaxed, but my “monkey brain” was still jumping around with random thoughts.

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We went on to learn that using a mantra, such as “om” is a useful tool to keep our minds from jumping all over the place. We were also instructed to focus on one of two points: either the point between our eyes or an area in the center of our chest.  Our homework was to practice meditation for five or ten minutes every morning.

I found the homework to be challenging and as my mind wandered and I could hear distractions from traffic and my neighbors. But I did find that I had sporadic moments of relaxation and connection with some higher plane.

At each class, the swami asked us about our experience doing our “homework.” Most of us reported having a lot of problems focusing and dealing with distractions, especially a gentleman whose 15 pound cat always jumped on him during his meditations.  A couple members of the class reported that they could not find the time or were too distracted to meditate.

The swami answered our questions and assured us that meditation, whether done correctly or not, was a very positive step. He went on to say that our minds really want to be left alone, and the act of meditating was a way we can exercise greater control of our mind.

When my last class was over, I felt slightly let down. I did not have that big “a-ha” moment I had hoped for nor did I feel like I was any better at meditating.  I was not sure I felt any different as a result of taking of these classes. And my mind still felt quite untamed.

But now, one week from our last class, I came to a realization that meditation was like a lot of things in life…the simple act of showing up can make the difference.  Think about it, how many times have you dreaded working out only to really get into it once you got there?  I believe that meditation, and life in general, is a lot like that.

If there is something we really want out of life, whether it be to be a writer, to achieve inner peace through meditation, or to be a chef…we need to show up.  We may not be good at these things just yet, but the willingness to work at it even when we’re not good will take us closer to where we want to be.

I’ll see you on the meditation cushion (my pillow) tomorrow morning!

Have you experienced moments you were thankful for showing up even when part of you really did not want to?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of oddsock.

1 Nadia - Happy Lotus December 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

Hi Tim,

Thank you so much for being so open about your experiences with meditation. So many people expect or think that something amazing will happen once they start to meditate and it just does not happen. When I first started, I used to fall asleep within minutes of shutting my eyes. This went on for a couple of weeks. I was worried and felt bad about it.

However, my teacher told me to just go with the flow and that in due time, I would not fall asleep. So I stuck with it and eventually got to the point where I could meditate for hours and not fall sleep.

Your analogy is just perfect. With meditation, you just need to show up and in due time, you will be amazed at what will happen. As for my experience where I showed when I really did not want to was when I first began my journey with meditation. I was not looking to learn about it but it appeared on my path and would not go away. I am glad that I followed through because it changed my life.

Apologies for the rambling! 🙂

2 Tim December 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi Nadia: No need to apologize, I enjoyed your comment! Wow, meditation for hours? Very cool. You’re right, I did expect a big discovery or light bulb moment. That being said, I’m not giving up and I think I feel some positive things happening. It is interesting to note that in my yoga class, we meditated while lying down on our backs…in my recent meditation class, we sat on cushions. I recall one time at the end of my yoga class I experienced one meditation where I was literally as relaxed as I could be without being asleep. It was pretty amazing! I’d be interested to learn about your experience with meditation sometime (another possible blog post?). Thank you for stopping by and for everything!

3 Casey December 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Here Here – I always felt that the measure of a good teammate, colleague, friend or lover is not how outstanding or perfect they are, it’s how dependable they are. Who shows up every time? That’s who I would want by my side.
.-= Casey´s last post…Generating Revenue for the CTA =-.

4 Lori December 8, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Hi Tim,
I’ve found such joy in my own meditation practice. I’m not a pro by any means, but I do enjoy my meditation time quite a bit – so good for you for showing up! Keep at it; I agree with Nadia and mirror her enthusiasm for the practice.

To address your question: Yes, absolutely. To be honest, I completely dreaded going to my now husband’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration – it was a HUGE party and I’m not great in crowds of people. It was the first time I was to meet his parents, his three teen-age daughters (at the time) and his whole extended family. They’re Italian, verbose, and a very vibrant bunch!

Yiikes!!!!

But, it turned out to be one of the most memorable, lovely, and heart-warming experiences in my life. I really was shaking in my boots, but they poured on the love and warmth and welcomed me with open arms. And it was so beautiful to see his parents (70 years old) completely in love with each other even after 50 years!

So, I guess that’s a big, fat YES! I was thankful for showing up! Great question and great post, master Tim!
🙂

5 Tim December 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Hi Casey: Great point. There’s nothing like a friend that shows up when you really need one. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Hi Lori: Good to hear that you’re involved in meditation, too! Also good to hear your story it was very cool. I know what you mean: I’ve been to a lot of gatherings (family included) and they always turn out better than I anticipate. Thank you for showing up here!

6 Eric | Eden Journal December 9, 2009 at 11:17 am

I have a lot of times where I’m not sure I want to show up to a particular event. Many of these events are with a club that I’m activily involved in. I often think of all the other things I might do instead, even though I know once I arrive I will have a fantastic time. And of course, I always do have a great time.

The hardest things for me to show up for are events or activities where I don’t know anyone else. I find it very uncomfortable to be around new people. If it’s something I really want to do, I just suck it up and go. Sometimes I’ll use a visualization technique where I picture myself at the activity, and see the people I meet as old friends. This sets the attitude that I am very comfortable around these people. It really helps alot.
.-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last post…The Shoveler and his Golden Shovel =-.

7 Mindful Mimi December 10, 2009 at 7:37 am

Hi Tim,
I have a love hate relationship with meditation. I have a monkey brain too and it’s way too scattery to calm down. I have found a compromise, which is running. I focus, I am still, I run through the woods and am one with nature. It’s not meditation exactly but what comes closest to me.
And yes I have had experiences where I did not feel like going and showed up anyway and it turned out to be just great. That is when I discovered to power of intention. When we intend to have fun, we are open to it and likely to actually have fun. Much more than if we just went thinking ‘oh my God I really don’t want to go and will be bored to death’.
Thanks for sharing.
Maybe you should try running for an a-ha moment? 🙂

8 Tim December 10, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Hi Mimi: I like your idea for meditation. Very good idea, I may have to try this once the weather gets warmer. I will say that I tried Julia Cameron’s morning pages for a couple months earlier this year and found that to be a lot like meditation for me. Good point, also, about the power of intention…I think our attitude can get in the way of having a good time sometimes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

9 Walter December 13, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Showing up is oftentimes difficult when we are not dedicated. We always miss our focus because of the distractions of our minds. It is important that we try to step above this distraction. 🙂

10 Tim December 13, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Hi Walter: You’re right…it helps when you can establish some sort of routine. Its also great to continue doing things and practicing the things that do not come natural to us. Eventually, I feel, we’ll get closer to where we want to be. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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