Monday, May 30, 2011

Keeping Time

Part of the practicing bit of my spiritual practice is rehearsing resistance to the impulses which control most of my life most of the time. So, I sit, and in a small island of quiet, do not obey that endless stream of small requests to itch or shuffle or shift or think about this that and the other thing and this again. It's a simple enough process in theory, but in practice, sorry about the pun, it can be tricky. My little impulses are so ubiquitous and so much part of the way I conduct my day that I never really notice the way they lead me around by my nose until I sit down and, er, notice them. And then, being noticed, they tend to insist with more than usual force on my following them. I must get up and check the car is locked, and I must do it now. That itch in my shoulder simply cannot be left alone. I wonder what the time is and how long I have been sitting here. I simply must check. There is a simple enough technique for handling these, and I'll speak of it on another day, but one of the easiest ways of coping with these small distractions is to pre-empt them. Cut them off at the pass. Get in before them.

So, as I sit down on my stool, I tell myself some stuff I already know. I remind myself why I am here, and why it is important to me. I remind myself that I have set aside X amount of minutes, and that I have nothing else that needs doing in this time. And to stop myself wondering if  X minutes is up yet, I set a little timer and remind myself that a bell will ring when the time is up.

I use an app on my iPhone called iSamadhi to time myself. I've tried several iPhone apps, and I'll review some of them later, but this is the one that suits me. I have it set so that it rings a bell every ten minutes and at the end of my session it records my time in a little auto log, which is a mixed blessing. It is quite interesting to see how much time I spend in meditation on any given day or week or month, but a log presents me with two equal and opposite dangers: guilt when the times are not as lengthy as the eternal haranguing should machine tells me they need to be, or smugness when my times indicate an imminent ascent into sainthood. Either way, the log becomes a means by which the ego strengthens itself and it is thus counter productive. So, I let the log entries accumulate, and sometimes let them remind me to take a firmer hand on my daily schedule, but mostly I delete them on a very regular basis and try not to take them too seriously.


  1. Ah, yes,the itching restlessness to attend to something we forgot while the Lord is inviting us simply to be still, rest, listen and love. Why is it so hard???

  2. Wow! A comment! Someone out there is actually reading this! Thanbks Elaine!

  3. Yes, you may be surprised how many are listening! I speak from the UK and read and reflect on your posts regularly - they are very inspiring and encouraged me to set-up my own blog - I'm afraid my busyness (good excuse) has not quite mastered the art of frequent blogging yet but thank you anyway for the long-distance anonymous encouragement!
    Every blessing in your ministry