Sunday, October 20, 2013

So What?

I went to a meditation group for my first time at a congregational church (just a few blocks away--much in its favor) this Sunday morning.
I want to start a meditation practice. I never have meditated regularly, though I've read a lot about it, from both Buddhist or Christian perspectives.

I used to feel that reading and thinking deeply about the psychology of mediation was enough––even though every book said it wasn't. But just recently, reading about brain function, I had a revelation: you can't think your way out of thinking.
It's like addiction: you can't intellectually will yourself not to be addicted.
You gotta approach by another door.
Further, it's like running:
reading about it is fun and interesting, but it's entirely separate from doing it.

I tried Buddhist meditation many years ago, and while the meditation felt right, the groups never did. There always seemed to be a preponderance of Volvo drivers who'd just returned from trekking in the Himalaya foothills, which gave the groups a kind of lopsided feel.

So I liked this group a lot: it was mostly middle-aged, vaguely culturally Christian-by-default folks.

Even so, I thought how interesting it is that sitting silently with folk of my age, class, and culture, I can be annoyed by people.
The guy next to me, for instance, had been texting right up until someone rang the Tibetan bowl.

So I sat there for 35 minutes and, as is normal of course, my mind scampered about, here and there, while I tried to focus on my breath, in and out. This group suggests using a word to focus on, but I prefer a non-verbal focal point.
Nonetheless, a word phrase came to me somewhere in there. This is totally not the point of meditation, but I grabbed hold of it because it delighted me so much.

These are the two words that arose:
So what?

Oh, so funny! So helpful for me, who is so good at adding value to distressing things. So useful in so many circumstances.

My relative doesn't want to talk about the ethics of grocery shopping?
So what?

My neighbors annoy me ?
So what?

I am doing everything (including mediation) wrong?
So what?

It's not that things don't matter. They do.
But this was such a dear, welcome reminder that I don't have to make them a bigger deal than they are.
Bookworm points me to the Peanuts Philosophy of Charles Schultz


Zhoen said...

Yeah, I'm just figuring out the limitation of smart. Some places can only be reached blindly feeling one's way.

Fresca said...

"The Limits of Smart"---that's it!

Meditation is on the other side of that.

Bookworm said...

I used to have a Peanuts cartoon featuring Sally's "Who Cares" philosophy taped inside my pencil case at school. Can't track it down online (did find this though:, but somehow it made me feel better.

Getting the balance between caring about things and self-preservation can be really hard.

Fresca said...

BOOK: Wonderful! I added one of the Peanuts strips. Thanks!