During the last week, a lot has happened. The bombings that seem so long ago occurred just 9 days back. The around-the-clock news coverage by the journalists that besieged Boston seemed to stretch out painful moments interminably. Like many people, I was glued to my television until the surreal news came through the scanners that this confused, 19-year-old man-child was wounded and captured alive.
Add to that my own confusion, stress, concern for those affected, (temporary and non-serious) illness, and several days away from my home, and it seems not so unlikely that I would fail to do one of the things that supports me through difficult times. As often happens to me during times of intense emotional stress, last week I stopped meditating.
My natural impulse is to berate myself for this illogical lapse or to force myself to sit for a long period to “make up” for lost time. But as I delve deeper into practicing imperfection, I’m exploring the effects of being gentle with myself.
Instead of flogging, I forgave. And instead of harsh self-discipline, I tried to remember the reasons I do this practice. I sat for just 5 minutes one day as a form of re-entry; the next day I sat for a longer period of time and listened to full meditation instruction. Tonight I will try to sit again, with a sense of gentleness and loving-kindness.
At times like these, being gentle with ourselves and one another may be the most important thing we can do.