There are times when simply making it to the cushion to plant my ass on it and meditate feels like a minor victory -- a single battle won in the long war.
When I blasted out of work and pulled up to my group meditation practice with two minutes to spare, after weeks with not a half a minute to spare, I felt like a victory salute was in order as I killed the ignition. This was not a solitary inconsequential battle. This was the Battle of the Bulge.
Wait, battling the bulge is another developing problem.
OK, let's call this arrival my Waterloo. I looked at the clock -- 6:58! -- and raised both arms in the air inside my car. Take that, Napoleon! Suck it, work! I made it to meditation.
In my glee, I rushed in, started to settle in, realized I needed to pee, then really settled in, then settled in again, then scratched my arm, adjusted my glasses, gee, they seem dirty, then realized I was settling in like a hummingbird and told my brain to demand of my body that it sit still.
Still. Very. Still.
That's when my to-do list at work flooded my brain.
Sadly, that to-do list is pretty big. OK it's enormous. It's my elephant in the meditation room. As I sat there, I would think about the to-do list, catch myself in the act, stop, then start again with new fervor -- emails! Twitter! Talk to so-and-so! Knowing better, I started berating myself, you're supposed to be dropping those thoughts off a cliff, not letting them multiply into a bazillion elephants.
Berating oneself is not a helpful thing to do on the cushion. But nor is letting your elephant-sized thoughts morph into a circus of a running narrative in your head, so admonishing myself became part of the vicious cycle.
I suck at meditating. I am the elephant.
Infrequency on the cushion breeds inconsistency and a lack of stamina. What I lacked in stamina I made up for in consistently -- I consistently let my brain run away with work-related thoughts.
Perhaps my head was worn out. Or maybe I eventually realized that if I didn't do this, right now, there was no point in being there. But eventually, my head settled in for the task at hand. Even an elephant can learn to sit quietly on a cushion.