Three weeks ago, I made a commitment to reboot my daily meditation practice. I set a simple goal: ten minutes of meditation in the morning and ten minutes of meditation in the evening.
I stuck with that routine for 19 days.
This past Saturday, I got up, sat down at my computer, and redesigned this web site. My time for morning meditation came and went. And Saturday evening, well, there was a party to attend. Once again, I missed my appointment.
Sunday morning, I got up, sat down at my computer, and buried myself in tweaking the web site I designed the day before. And, Sunday night, well, we were headed out for dinner with friends.
By Sunday morning, I didn’t feel right. My world had sharper edges. Innocent comments from others rubbed me the wrong way. A sort of quiet frustration welled up inside me — a feeling that was at once familiar (from having spent years with it coiled up in my chest) and unfamiliar (from having escaped it for the past nineteen days).
I’m conditioned to beat myself up about failure: to dwell on it, to see it as confirmation of weakness, to linger over regrets. “You had a chain! Nineteen days! And now you’re back to zero! This is what you always do: you have great ideas, you start with enthusiasm, and then you fail to follow through.”
I confess I indulged in that a bit last night.
But then, this morning, instead of staying in that place, I got up, did my chores, and returned, very gently, to my practice.
Resistance takes many forms. One of its most clever guises is that of the Severe Teacher — the one who shames us, who smirks at us, who mocks us, who tell us, “You’re so predictable. I knew you’d fail again.”
We must recognize that inner voice for what it is: an old recording of an old conversation we had with someone long ago. We must let that recording play. We must acknowledge it for what it is: not us, not Truth, not God … but just a ghost in the darkness.
We feel compassion for the wounded ghost (“Poor ghost!”). But then we set the ghost aside and return to the work we’re called to do.
What have you set aside that you need to return to? What ghosts stand between you and your goals? What might happen today if you were to pity those ghosts … let them pass into the darkness … and return to your Work?