Practice is...practice is...practice is...life
Early Morning Laps
I worked once in a school that had a very good swim team. The school was in Florida and team members practiced right round the year. In the cooler Jacksonville winters I would marvel at the hardy souls who had already done an hour of laps by the time I arrived at school around 6:45 am. An unearthly steam would be hovering over the water and I could catch glimpses of arms rising and falling through the steam.
What particularly and memorably impressed me was the matter of "progress" these young student athletes would tell me of. "If I train this way for a year I might knock fifteen seconds off my time in the 200 meter freestyle." Fifteen seconds! I may not have the numbers exactly correct, but I do recall distinctly that years of training went into small increments of progress. The point, for them, was that at their level of competition those fifteen seconds made all the difference. They were in the game for the long haul. It was a commitment to a lifestyle that measured progress in seconds.
Meditation practice is similar in so many ways.
I may see little change from week to week in the stillness of my mind, or my insights into the reactions I form to the day to day thoughts. This morning, for example, I decided that I needed to just focus on my breathing for the thirty minutes of my sit. And it was hard "work". Five years ago, when I began to meditate five minutes of focused breathing was hard work.
apacity is slowly, very slowly, building. My goal is to be present, whether in meditation or in my daily activities. Thinking of those swimmers in the mist helps.
"The surest result is not measured in terms of content, but of capacity." Ajahn Succito