The hot room lacked furniture. Sitting down meant taking a colored yoga mat from the corner, placing it on the floor, and criss-crossing my legs. As soon as my legs hit the floor, I noticed the bare beige walls with chipped paint as the only decorative embellishment. The goal, in theory, was simple. We were required to meditate for thirty minutes. There were no indicators of time, other than the meditation leader’s cue to stop.

The idea of doing nothing in a room full of nothing overwhelmed me. I understood the literal meaning of meditation. To embrace stillness. But I am not there yet. My focus is on time and how to utilize it. In my day to day life, I embrace my to-do lists. On any given day of the week, there are at least ten items listed that require my attention. The all-important red line of ink that moves across my own words gives me a quiet sense of satisfaction. It means completed, finished, done, and an A in the win column, accomplished goal. I’ve spent much of my life that way, creating tasks and working toward completing them. When I fail to accomplish a certain task, I consider it a personal failure. I judge my own to-do list and what I haven’t achieved.

Because meditation’s goal cannot be immediately realized or since there is nothing to “cross-out”, I struggle with it. I set up a time limit on my meditation, not so I can move toward stillness, but so that I can “say” I met the goal of achieving a certain time period of nothingness. In reality, my mind reeks of clutter, of noise, of words that betray the silence.

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After the thirty minutes end, a discussion follows. The main goal, the instructor says, is to not judge the meditation. Meditation shouldn’t have a goal because it shatters the concept of stillness. She urges everyone to accept where they are in their respective meditation practice. The ultimate focus is to create a gap of space that you can return to, one of complete calm and peace.

I am not there yet, I say to myself, but I quickly take those words back. Meditation doesn’t belong on a t0-do list.

 

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