Yoga Journal

Companions for Contemplation

I distinctly remember the first time I sat in meditation practice. Surrounded by fellow yoga students in a small Philadelphia studio nearly 15 years ago, I carefully followed the instructor’s cues. First off: “Find your way into a comfortable cross-legged position.” Yoga had prepared me for this. I sat still comfortably.

But as the teacher continued to guide us—“Notice any thoughts that may occur”—I noticed a stirring discomfort. My mind was anything but quiet. In fact, it had loads to say—about last week’s difficult conversations, how my socks felt, my recent choice to quit law school, the electricity bill, long held insecurities… you name it. I hobbled through that first experience with equal parts curiosity and agony. Meditation was hard. My mind’s overzealous ability to fill empty space with feedback, memory, worry, and contemplation was well practiced. Thoughts conquered stillness.

I reminded myself why I was there in the first place: to unplug from the rest of life (even for a few minutes at a time) and re-emerge

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