I’ve been intending to try out a meditation group for several weeks now.
No; let’s be honest: It’s been a good, solid few months.
I want to meditate with a sangha. Meditation is great for my mental health. It’s great for my physical health. I tend to really enjoy the people who are drawn to mindfulness meditation, which is what I practice. My meditation teacher suggested I find a sangha. I’ve even been subscribed to the email list for one in particular for a while now.
And still, it took a whole lot of time to work up the courage to go.
Last weekend, I was dead set on finally going. And then I was plum tuckered out in a post-Father’s Day brunch haze, and I (conveniently) fell asleep, only to wake up right when meditation would be starting.
So this week, I told my therapist: “I’m GOING to meditation this week. I’m telling you so I’ll do it. Because I really want to do it.”
I’m pretty sure that’s what finally got me to go. The commitment to another human who was going to ask me about it next week, ’cause I asked her to.
So I went; thank goodness. I felt so enormously nervous, walking into the yoga studio where the sangha would meet. Taking off my rain-soaked flats, I tried not to look too needy and out of place, even though I was the only person there who didn’t know any of the yoga folks jostling about the space. (I didn’t succeed, but that’s okay.)
There was that terribly uncomfortable span of time that I found so familiar: the moment when I know that person over there is the person I’m looking for, but I don’t introduce myself right away because I don’t know how to do it. And then I’m sitting there for a good five minutes, trying to pretend that I don’t know who they are and that I’m not pondering my approach. (All the while, I’m intently pondering my approach.)
Luckily, they were really sweet. I introduced myself (inelegantly). They made me feel welcome and included. Things were explained, so I could gather what was going on and how to comport myself. I was even able to actually focus on my breathing, for a breath or two.
All this made me think, though: Good gracious, it is absurdly difficult to try something new. It’s so terribly intimidating to enter a new space where I don’t know the people or the customs. That difficulty has deterred me from starting so many things that, eventually, have turned out to change my life in the best of ways. Things like acupuncture.
On the other side of that difficulty, though, is a mountain of payoffs. The satisfaction of a conquered fear. The whole still-being-alive-despite-uncomfortable-social-interaction thing. The chance to meet people who are there because they care deeply about engaging wholeheartedly in their world. The reminder that New York City is full of thoughtful, quiet, deep-in-thought people; as well as many other people. Walking away with the buoyant buzz that only comes from feeling like a part of a meaningful community.
Doing something new is outrageously, shockingly hard, especially for us sensitives and introverts. But I think that makes it particularly important for us to do something new every once in a while. We know how to savor the sweet sensation of accomplishment on the other side.