I did not want to write this blog today. In fact, I woke up not wanting to do anything today. Anything except find a television to park in front of, to watch the US Open matches well into the night. I did not want to feed my cat, take a walk, make a veggie smoothie, prep lessons for class. I most certainly did not want to study for my upcoming licensure exam. I did not want to do anything today.
I was not even going to meditate. Only a week and five days into this experiment, and here I was ready to cut corners.
Then, I became curious about what it would be like to sit for a full hour when I did not want to. I’ve sat for shorter times when I didn’t want to, but never for a full hour. An hour—this was a challenge to meet, which enticed me to sit. It helps having this blog as well. The intention is, after all, to show up authentically. How can I write a daily blog about sitting an hour each morning and night, from a place of genuineness, without putting in the time? I resisted the urge to punt and write about how I didn’t sit today and instead dutifully cued the insight timer.
In my training as a Level 2 iRest® instructor, I learned a technique called “Working with Opposites.” It’s not new. There are forms of the approach in cognitive behavioral therapy, insight meditation traditions, and others. In this meditation that I did not want to do, on this morning that I did not want to do anything, I used a variation of the ‘working with opposites’ process I learned from Richard Miller.
Beginning the sit, I sensed my body in the chair, the sounds in the room, the sensations on my skin. I noticed the pace and depth of the breath as it entered and left the body. I chose which ‘opposites’ to work with: ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ I chose which to begin with: ‘no.’ As I gently thought ‘no,’ responses arose from my mind, my heart, and my body. The experience of ‘no’ fully encompassed me. Some thoughts, feelings, sensations changed as they received attention, and others stayed the same.
After a time, I let go of ‘no’ and welcomed ‘yes’ in a similar manner—noticing the effect of that word on my experience across domains.
I then shifted between the two, spending some time with ‘no’ and inner reactions to that and then some time with ‘yes.’ Back and forth. I then welcomed in the two simultaneously. This is not a feat accomplishable by the mind. It’s purely experiential and absolutely lovely.
Then the bell rang.
I realized that this morning’s series of adamant ‘no’s had a valid place at other times in my life, in response to other experiences. No to minor through major violations. No after no that was ignored throughout my life. In this meditation, I spent more time with these old parts of me whose protests were ignored back then. I validated their right to say no. I comforted them, pointing out that now, what the day held for them could be welcomed safely with yeses.
Do I want to meditate? Yes. Do I want to write? Yes. Do I want to eat well, exercise, read, teach, walk, dance, and spend time with people who I love and who love me? A resounding yes.
What do you do when you don’t want to do what you’ve asked yourself to do?