“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day—unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour” – Zen saying
At this moment I’m in Woodacre, California—a small town in Marin County, north of San Francisco—at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center for a seven-day silent meditation retreat.
No, I didn’t bring my computer to sneak my weekly post in—I wrote this ahead of time and scheduled it to publish at the regular Tuesday time.
Today, for me, is Friday, and I’m anticipating getting on the plane tomorrow and flying up North for a week of no email, no phone, and no talking. The last few months have been busy, busy, busy, and recently my daily meditation practice has lapsed. I’ve used the excuse of “I’m too busy to meditate,” but to be honest, that’s not the real reason.
The real reason is that busyness is a habit, and once I let a few days slip by without meditating because I was too busy, it suddenly became much more difficult to slow down.
I imagine that over the first day or two of the retreat, much of my meditation will be spent ruminating about things I was supposed to do before I left but forgot, or worrying about unresolved problems.
Then, maybe in the middle, I’ll find a few days of peace and calm.
Then, at the end, I’ll start to become terrified of the avalanche of voicemails, emails, and other demands I’ll have to deal with when I get back.
But that’s the point, right? It’s not about finding peace off in a cave somewhere, or in the midst of a silent meditation retreat—it’s about finding peace, right here, right now, amidst all of the inevitable chaos of daily life.
So perhaps when we are busiest is exactly when we need to take time to slow down the most.
As the Zen saying goes, you should meditate 20 minutes a day, unless you’re really busy—in which case you should meditate an hour. Perhaps all the pressures I’m dealing with in my life right now make this the exact right moment to unplug and dedicate a substantial period of time to meditation.
I hope when I return I will have some new perspectives on the subject, so stay tuned 🙂
Photo by Staffan Scherz