Reading about meditation is the most important thing in my life. I must make the time, one hour, twice a day, to sit down and quietly read about going within. If I don’t, my awareness of present moment literature dwindles. My mind wanders to books about later or elsewhere. I become miserable and I spread misery to those around me.
Honeymoons are plateaus too
Reading about meditation is not always easy. When I first started, I went through a honeymoon phase wherein I idealized the image of reading about meditation. Instead of just being a person reading about meditating, I was being a person attached to the idea of being a person reading about meditating.
Any good reader about meditation must learn to persevere through the different plateaus that arise throughout steady years of reading about meditation. So I kept reading until I broke through my beginner’s phase. I theorized that I am a sentient being in an eternal now. For the first time I even observed my breath as it slowly passed over my upper lip and onto the pages of my book.
“Instead of just being a person reading about meditating, I was being a person attached to the idea of being a person reading about meditating.”
Sometimes even now I don’t feel like reading about meditation, and I might doubt its effects. At times I’d much rather read about yoga, or diet. Sometimes I want to just drop all the serious stuff and just read about hanging out with some friends.
Audio Books and Water
In my little meditation library, where my senses return, I dim the lights, light some candles and put on a CD of water sounds. Then I sit down on a meditation cushion (usually within the recliner), and perceive the stark reality of text. Or sometimes, I’ll put on an audio book about meditation, and I’ll make the trickling water sounds myself, with a basin and turkey baster.
It can be hard to justify sequestering myself away every morning and evening to read about meditation, especially as a busy married guy. I hardly get to just spend a quiet evening reading about my wife.
Reading about Being
You may say, “But two hours per day seems like a long time to be reading about meditating.” True, but there are twenty-two hours per day of anti-liberation forces, like day jobs and domestic life. My first studious hour merely keeps me even with all the crap. Only during the second hour do I really start understanding the Sutras about direct perception.
It may sound cheesy, but I even made cue cards to quiz myself about what Now feels like.
The tradition that I study just happens to be Therevada Buddhism, but I do not discriminate against other forms of meditation literature. In fact, some of my best friends read about Mahayana Buddhism and even various Hindu practices. Every now and then, just to switch it up, I’ll dust off and read my old mantra over and over. Boy, that’s a real page-turner!
In parting, I recommend two great writers who have influenced my path: Alan Watts, and Chogyam Trungpa. Their meditation books have replaced my meditation practice. They very clearly describe meditation, especially for such drinkers who didn’t meditate much.
I hope someday for my meditation reading to deepen until I am advanced enough to begin the more tangible act of writing about meditation.
photo credit: Akuppa/flickr
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