30 Day Meditation Challenge: Day 12

Thursday December 18, 2009:  I have to admit that yesterday I failed to make my daily meditation enough of a priority.  As a result, I ended up meditating after seeing a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Kennedy Center and a long dinner over a bottle of wine with my mother and my husband.

Although our home was not particularly religious, my mother loved classical music and I grew up listening to her play the Messiah on our record player during the holidays.  Even as a child, for reasons I cannot really explain, it resonated with me.  But, that did not translate into a greater appreciation for classical music and I don’t go to operas or the symphony often.  However, this year, I had the opportunity to get tickets to the Messiah and to take my mother.  I hoped it would be magical for her and I was curious about the power of a live performance since I had only ever heard recordings.  Listening intently to a 2.5 hour performance of that magnitude is sort of like learning to meditate.  Sitting in the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center, with the entire National Symphony Orchestra arrayed before me, I wanted to be transported, to feel ecstatic.   I was ready to be a good and attentive listener.  But my body and mind sometimes rebelled!  I would focus at times but then my attention would drift.  Different emotions washed over me.  At times, I was genuinely delighted by something I heard.  But, there were also moments when my mind got bossy and insisted there was something I “should” be feeling or noticing or appreciating and I kind of stopped hearing the music.   When my mind was quiet, my body would grow restless.  Like my early meditation practice, I felt the effort more than the experience.

After the performance, we went for dinner and shared a bottle of wine.  I thought that perhaps the combined effects of music on such a scale and a few glasses of wine would make for a colorful meditation!  But, I think instead I was just kind of depleted from the concert and dulled from the wine.  As a result, the meditation was sort of flat.  I didn’t feel a lot of energy moving and what I did feel was much less vivid and powerful.   I was grateful to have the bija mantra practice as a structure to work with.  And, although I wasn’t “transported”, the meditation has become less of an effort and more of a familiar and comforting ritual.