excerpts from my meditation journal

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During my first semester at UC Berkeley, I found myself in need of an additional academic unit. I followed the lead of four of my floormates and enrolled in a student-run class on meditation. The class met three times a week, from 8-9 AM. All you had to do was show up, discuss meditation for 5-10 minutes, and then meditate. In addition, we were supposed to keep a "meditation journal".

It took me one single class session to learn a valuable lesson. Meditation teachers didn't take roll before class. Calling out names might have destroyed our relaxed mood. Instead, they circulated a sign-in sheet to keep track of attendance. There was nothing to prevent an unscrupulous student from writing in the names of his three friends who slept through their alarms that morning. In fact, there was nothing to prevent four people from setting up a rotation, where they'd only have to attend 1/4 of their meditation classes. And within that rotation, there was nothing to prevent one person (me) from shirking even that limited responsibility, trusting his friends not to be spiteful and stop writing down his name after a full month of his non-attendance.

Trouble arose when my early-rising friend Jeremy returned from class one Tuesday with news: Our meditation journals were due on Thursday. The instructors wanted to read our daily entries, to get our impressions of the class, and to make sure we weren't stagnating as meditators. I had been writing in my meditation journal nearly as often as I'd been attending class, so I was forced to do half a semester's worth of journal entries in one night. Here are some excerpts from that night:

September 23

For a meditation class, it seemed too noisy. Not high-decibel, but it was just that every little noise seemed to take me out of thoughts...Maybe I just need to focus more. The rest of the class sure responded.

September 24

...I think that on Tuesday, my problem was that I thought about meditating while meditating. I got away from that, but I still feel like I don't belong here, or even know what the hell I'm doing. Stick with it, stick with it...

September 30

I amazed my floormates and myself by actually getting up and going to start Week 2. This is nice because I don't feel any pressure, and when you're in Chem 1A, extra pressure is the last thing you need!

October 7

Not my finest meditation today. I'm a little ashamed of it, especially after what I wrote on Thursday, but I fell asleep in the first part of class. When I woke up, it was hard to get into it again. I suck.

October 16

...I haven't ever tried to meditate outdoors, to get a sensual perspective of the nature I attempted to commune with...the whole experience was more natural, wholesome, and real. What a beautiful day.

October 21

I looked over my journal entries today, and I almost laughed at how paranoid and confused I am in the first few. I may not be the best meditator, but at least I'm not completely paranoid every moment that I'm trying to focus.

I got full credit.

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October 28

"Every time I close my eyes and really get into it, I start to hear a little voice whispering 'kill...kill...' It's just like that thing that used to happen during naptime in grammar school. But I feel confident the results will be different now."

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on September 26, 2006 11:25 PM.

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