I’ve just finished my first meditation retreat of any length (and by that, I mean more than half a day) – a non-residential two-day sit out at UBC lead by Norman Fischer and hosted by my zendo – which was a really interesting experience in that all the cliches about longer sits turn out to be true. It is an oddly emotional experience, physically very challenging, and you come to the end of it with great feelings of admiration and positivity for the people who meditate on either side of you, even though you pretty much don’t interact with them. I think Saturday felt like the longest day of my life (the retreat went from 9-9 on that day) – and I definitely struggled with my own process, doubts about whether I should be there and so forth – but by the close on Sunday I was excited about the prospect about future/longer retreats.
Meditation is a lot like going to the gym: it’s sometimes a struggle to get there, but you always feel better for having done it; the changes are incremental but noticeable; once you start doing it, there is a momentum to keep at it. I suppose that really meditation is a lot like anything that requires some work and discipline – it’s a bit of a tough haul, but it wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t.
Which is really how this relates to being a fitness update I suppose – because I’m taking a little stock after 8 weeks back at the gym, watching my food intake, and keeping my alcohol to a minimum – and even though I’ve got a long way to go to achieve my total weight loss goal (forty pounds), I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. In all, I’ve lost about ten pounds (I say about because it fluctuates and it also depends where I count my start weight from), but even better – I’ve lost four inches from my waist, my hips and my bust. That four inches on the waist in particular took me back down to a healthier waist circumference (I’m out of the higher risk zone for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease) – which is a nice little health milestone. Also, when I go to the gym and lift weights, I’ve got muscles that appear! Plus everything else feels better, I have more energy and feel generally a lot more positive about myself than I was during the winter.
So hooray for sitting, and moving, and all the states in between!
Yeah that’s exactly what meditation feels like to me lots of the time – weightlifting! Occasionally feels nice, briefly, but mostly it is pretty hard work. Training the mind. And then one day you have to lift a fallen piano off a guy in the street, and presto!