I use Insight Timer as a meditation tool, not the free app but the “real” one, which gives you a timer; about ten options for starting and ending bells (I use the lovely “Kangse”); and stats about your friends, your sessions, your percentages, your progress. It may seem counter-intuitive to measure mindfulness–it’s certainly very 21st-century!–but I have found it to be a lovely little tool for some reason. I like seeing that Susan in Berkeley has been meditating alongside me, or that my friend in Norway has gathered four gold stars. Meanwhile, I’m hovering at a mere 54%.
Well, I meditate 54% of the days. When I started this gig, I was closer to 60%, mostly 59%, if I’m being honest. I’m not sure why, exactly, but over the spring and summer my percentage dropped to 55% and then to 54% and I started to feel a little panicked: am I only half mindful, I wondered?
It seems wrong, because I actually feel like I’ve become more like 65% mindful. Over the weekend I managed to avoid several potential conflicts with Marc’s family by choosing silence, for example. And when I woke up feeling out of sorts and depressed today, I reminded myself that this too shall pass, that it’s okay to sit with the strange revealing dream I had about wanting another baby, or the fact that I feel this week like there hasn’t been enough intimacy in my life, and this slow-dawning realization that I’m not that into my job(s). For example. I feel more mindful, yet I get to the zafu about five percent less.
I wonder what’s the end goal, here, if there is one. I know Pema Chödrön talks about the importance of sitting every day, but Pema Chödrön also lives in a monastery and doesn’t have a four-year-old jumping on her head every morning. (This morning, 7:25: “Mama, I thought you were meditating!” Yep, me too…) But I mean–is the idea to get so mindful that you don’t need the sitting anymore? Or is the idea that the sitting will always be necessary because mindfulness will always, always be challenged?
And is it possible to become, well, better at the practice, so that even when you’re making it to the cushion less often you’re being more mindful in your life? Or is this some self-serving illusion I’ve created?
I love asking all these questions, because I know there aren’t really answers. I have this feeling that if I asked Pema, she’d say: sit every day, and find out.