Two Lists

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 20
Friday, February 20, 2015

28 Day Challenge aspen leaf pub dom

First night of our meditation group: five women, a dog and two cats gather around my friend’s woodstove. We drink tea. We check in. We sit. We listen to a dharma talk from Pema Chödrön’s Noble Heart. We eat home made oatmeal cookies (I eat two). It is lovely.

At the end of this first teaching, Pema gives a home work assignment. Write two lists: one of people (and creatures) for whom we have love and gratitude and another of people (and creatures) for whom we have compassion.

I love an assignment. I go home, pick out a journal with bamboo leaves on the cover and a purple pen. I put them by my bed. Every night, after I sit, I write down all the people from my day that I have love and gratitude for and all the people for whom I feel compassion. By the end of the week, my purple bamboo lists are long. My immediate and extended family, my friends and my sangha sisters, but also my students, yoga teachers, fellow yogis, colleagues, pets, my friends’ pets, the waiter from the Taphouse, a friend’s angry partner, the postal carrier, even our chickens – everybody I interact with in any way – all make it on either one or both of my lists.

Second week of our meditation group and I arrive quite pleased with myself and my lists. I tuck myself onto my cushion, wrap my hands around my tea mug and listen as others check in. The first person hadn’t done anything since our last meeting ~ she didn’t sit, she didn’t read the book and she had forgotten all about the lists. I smile at her with just a tiny bit of superiority. The second person says she wrote her lists, “But I didn’t remember until today to put myself on both of them!”

“Ha ha ha!” everyone laughs. “How funny that you overlooked that until now. Because of course you should be on both lists.”

Um.

It had never even crossed my mind for a single moment that I should put myself on either list. Not for a second.

Good thing we’re meeting for thirteen weeks. And that I have the rest of my days to practice.

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