Meditation is boring and painful. Why would anybody do that to themselves? Mostly because not meditating is even more painful. I took a long slow path to meditation. I was looking for a magical escape. I was intrigued by some of the supernatural powers described in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I read a lot about meditation before I started to try it. I went to a few classes and then to a meditation group, but it still didn’t grab me. I read Pema Chodron and Chogyam Trungpa and people like that, but I was more interested in the philosophy than the practice. In one of his books (probably in a few), Chogyam Trungpa wrote that meditation is a waste of time. That sold me. It took the pressure off, and I started sitting more.
What really sold me, and made me become a regular was becoming stressed. I had trouble sleeping, I worried. At times, I didn’t know what I was worried about, I just felt generalized angst. I believed that meditation would cure my stress, but still, I rarely did it. Eventually, I got stressed enough that I started doing it. At first I sat for five or ten minutes in the morning. I quickly found it was not enough. I started meditating for 20 minutes, then 30, and eventually an hour. I immediately felt more calm. I could relax in meetings and in the car very quickly. I enjoyed that. I still felt stress though. It seems I had very high expectations of my waste of time.
After about a year of regular meditation, a friend told me about a local Zen Master. After a few months of psyching myself up to go, I went. An enlightened teacher is indispensable. Since I started working with Sunim, I have developed a focused practice that centers on regular meditation. I stopped eating meat, I lost weight, I got a better job, I sleep better, I’ve been quite healthy, I’m often happy, I have a better relationship with my stress and a better relationship with my wife. I think these have all been side effects of meditation. I am almost never bored or in pain as I sit for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evenings, wasting my time.