Good in the Middle

In February, meditation teacher and author, Sharon Salzberg sponsors a 28-Day Meditation Challenge. Everybody is invited to commit to meditating every day for the month and join the mindfulness community. As part of the challenge, I’ll be blogging throughout the month (along with other meditator/bloggers) about the experience. You can find the posts on Sharon’s site and I’ll share mine on Focus Pocus.

28-Day Meditation Challenge ~ Day 14
Saturday, February 14, 2015

28 Day Challenge aspen leaf pub dom

For two months, I’ve been creating a new routine called No Words ~ all instrumental music, taught in silence. For a word-centered, lyric-loving, chatty-Cathy like me, it is a creative edge. Last night I taught it for the first time.

This morning, as I “meditated”, my mind obsessively analyzed and chewed on every part of the class. I could have been simpler, more impeccable. I could have set it up more clearly. I should have taught it differently and it would have been better. In the pit of my heart sat the dull ache of disappointment.

My writer friend, Whitney (aka The Coconut Girl), reminds me that any work of art, however flawed, that is brought out into the world is infinitely superior to perfect art that remains in our heads. Without question, Seth Godin would agree that we have to take the vulnerable step out and share our work. (One of my favorite Godin quotes is, “This may not work.”)

Even so, the gap between my vision and its execution yawns wide.

All of which reminds me of the Three Noble Principles. Pema Chödrön describes them as moving through any practice or work focusing on “good in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end.”

In regards to the No Words routine, I certainly started with “good in the beginning.” I began with an aspiration to create a fun, meditative, movement experience focused on the mover, undistracted by lyrics in the music or teacher shenanigans. My intention was for No Words to lead to happiness and reduce suffering.

First of the Three Noble Principles? Check.

The second principle, the “good in the middle” part maaaay be where I went astray. Pema describes this as proceeding through an endeavor with openness and, as best we can, without grasping. Oh, see? There’s the rub. I really, really wanted the routine to turn out just like I envisioned it. I was attached to the outcome. Yes, I was.

This is the paradox of practice: to set a clear, pure intent that I care deeply about, then proceed without attachment to what actually happens. When I am grasping for things to go certain way, for me to be a certain way, for others to feel a certain way, I have dropped the proverbial ball of the Second Noble Principle. Plus, the next morning I’m obsessing on my cushion feeling poopie.

Right here, smack dab in the middle of the challenge is a good place to focus on “good in the middle.”

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5 comments
  1. T-rex said:

    DAGNABBIT GIRL! You are hereby ordered to stop. No Words was fabulous and everyone LOVED it. Ack! I was kicking myself coming home because I knew I had skipped the part where I should have told you how wonderful the routine and the music and your instruction was. Was it challenging in parts? Yes. But that’s a good thing as you know. The room was filled with love and everybody was all in doing the movements and being part of the music. The cramped and darkish space is what made it tough in parts. Please keep teaching it! LOVE LOVE LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO YOU FOR BRINGING NO WORDS AND YOUR SPECIAL SELF TO THE COMMUNITY.

    • Oh my TRex! I just KNEW you were going to write something along these lines (although the DAGNABBIT? did not see that coming). And my point is that this is part of the creative process for me, the vision, the work, and feeling the space between what I imagined and how it actually happens. And then it’s off and running and living on its own…pretty much without me. Of course I will keep teaching it. That’s part of the process, too. And thank you for your love ~ I love dancing on this edge with you!

  2. Some feedback from before I read this blog entry.
    In my journal today I wrote: Susan taught her new routine, No Words. It was deeply spiritual. It was fun to dance with my Nia friends and the church congregants. I liked the routine–different but simple–easy for the group to follow (and with no words, there can’t be a lot of complex changes). I wonder if Susan will teach it this week.

    • Ah! Interesting! I’m glad to hear you found it so. And to you and Ms. TRex, the larger point here is that I go through this *EVERY TIME* I create something new. There is this point in the gap between conceiving and creating that I feel like it missed the mark. And then it has its own life, its own impact that I have nothing to do with. It’s just part of the process. And thank you for your kindness and YES I will be teaching it this week (except for Wednesday which is Brownies for Chloe Day) and maybe next week, depending on how we’re all doing it with it. Thank you, dear Rachel.

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