Can you sit quietly, doing nothing?
The other night I was sitting in the meditation group I attend. A lady who began attending recently started bemoaning the state of the environment. My first thought was here we go again and 'How much of your nice middle-class comforts are you willing to give up to save The Environment?' My second thought was to assess the first thought as unkind and unhelpful. My third thought was this lady is suffering, but the only way she can express it is through fretting about the environment. My fourth thought was does she have the faith and perseverance to stick with a meditation practice long enough to find some relief from her suffering?
We had someone attend the sit for awhile. A person she cared about met a violent end and she seemed to be trying to make sense of it. She sat with us for some weeks, maybe a little more than a month. Then I guess she moved on to something else? We have a lot of people come and go like that.
I've been sitting regularly for about ten years. Having a meditation practice has improved my life and reduced my suffering quite a bit. My life isn't perfect but it's a lot better than it would have been without the practice. When I first started, I didn't look ten years ahead. I hardly looked to the next week. But then, I wasn't looking for relief from suffering. I thought I was doing okay except something was missing.
Meditation practice doesn't promise quick results. Actually it doesn't promise much of anything. It's easy to have days when you ask Why exactly am I doing this? I think if you have to have reasons, it makes it a lot harder. If you are looking to save something, like your marriage, your relationship with your mother, the World, you are liable to be sorely disappointed on at least one of those counts. Of course, if you sit long enough, you have a good chance of figuring this out too.
At first I sat just to sit. I was curious about the whole thing. My suffering decreased even though I wasn't really trying. But then I started to notice this and I started trying, having expectations. That led to struggle and a lot of suffering about practice. Now I'm starting to let go again. Letting go is good.
I wish I could tell new people- this practice will make things better but not in the ways you expect and not as fast as you'd like.