This week our post comes from Laura, a young adult living in Denver, Colorado. Laura shares her story of finding passage meditation and her path to establishing a regular daily practice.
When I was about 17 or 18, a lot of my inner thoughts and dialogue were consumed with questions about the nature of life. I was on my own small search for meaning, and for the most part I was disappointed by the lack of answers. The general plan or arc of our lives (school, work, family) seemed devoid of the richness and magic I craved from life.
When I started college, I began to learn about social and environmental injustices around the world. My studies made me wonder how I, one single human being, could possibly make any change for the better. I felt more and more anxious about the state of the world, and about the lack of meaning and purpose in my own experiences.
Amidst all these agonizing questions, my interest in mediation took root. Figures whom I admired such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.—who had changed the world in positive ways—appeared to be in on some secret together, and that secret I perceived to be the spiritual path.
I also felt that meditation could help me deal with the stress of living. Whether you’re working or studying (as I was) or both, life has its ups and downs. I felt immense pressure all the time—to earn good grades, find the right career path, even to enjoy the social aspects of college as much as I felt I was “supposed” to. It was all a bit overwhelming. I had recently taken up yoga and was simply amazed by how calm it made me feel. Mental and physical well-being started to become a daily priority, and I had a hunch that meditation was the next step forward.
My college offered a one-credit class on meditation, so I enrolled. The professor happened to be a dedicated passage meditator, and Passage Meditation was the assigned reading. Nowadays, I feel that it was a great stroke of luck to find Easwaran this way—it could have been any professor, and it could have been any book. To be honest, I don’t know that I would have picked up Passage Meditation on my own; my perception of what meditation was had nothing to do with passages or mystic literature. I had only read Buddhist books on meditating on the breath. Luckily, I was ever the good student and made sure to read every chapter as assigned.
Of course, I fell in love with Easwaran’s sensible, clear writing, his humor, sincerity, and compassion for the reader. I’m sure many passage meditators can relate to this part! Each of the eight points made so much sense. Easwaran’s assurances that we can all find unshakable security, better health, stronger relationships, and most enchanting of all, more meaningful lives, pulled me in at the introduction.
Now For the Hard Part
When Easwaran said, “Meditation is the greatest challenge on earth,” he was not kidding around. After discovering the 8PP, I embarked on a journey to make it a daily practice, a journey of self-discipline that continues today. As Easwaran predicts for new meditators, I had a great burst of enthusiasm at the beginning and meditated regularly for about a week. It was downhill from there for a while.
Keeping a regular practice in college can be difficult, because schedules are constantly shifting from semester to semester. I was never rising at the same time each day, and I was always staying up late studying or writing papers. But I kept trying. I would reread Passage Meditation, and my enthusiasm would be renewed for a while. I would have weeks of solid meditation, and weeks of no meditation. It was only after I graduated and entered the working world when finally something clicked. Easwaran asserts that nothing in life—not sleep, not work, not the pleasures of the day—is more important than daily mediation, and this thought struck a deep chord. I finally felt the sense of urgency he talked about. Also, for me, it was much easier to integrate morning meditation into my day once I had a set schedule that was more or less nine-to-five.
What I’ve learned from the process of starting a daily practice is just that—it’s a process. It took me the better part of two years from the day I opened Passage Mediation, and there have been many bumps along the road since then. I have a long way to go in my “desire for perfection” (St. Catherine), and my practice of all the points. But by reflecting on my journey to this moment, I remember that the spiritual journey just takes time, a dash of divine grace, and faith in the process.