Hello my fellow human Beings:
Heat waves flood over southern Ontario and other parts of Canada and the United States.
Record high temperatures are being set this summer with high humidity levels too.
Rain is wanted (needed), but is elusive. (Although the weather forecasters keep telling us it’s coming!)
Lawns are brown and crispy, plants, flowers and crops are withering, and people’s composures are melting under the sun’s heat.
So who wants to meditate for a day in a room with no air-conditioning, only a few windows that open, and with 70 other people?
It’s probably not your first choice of things to do, but that was the scenario for a one-day meditation course that I managed last weekend in Toronto.
We did the best we could to circulate the air with strategically placed fans, but with all the bodies in the room it was still hot and sticky in the meditation hall.
Some people said, “No, thank you” to this silent one-day meditation course and left early.
Yet, for those who stayed, it was a great practice opportunity to be encouraged and supported to sit with the uncomfortable situations and observe the sensations of heat and humidity in the meditation hall for the meditation sitting portions of the day. (There was of course time to stay well hydrated and get some fresh air and feel the soft, breezes outside during the break periods.)
As I was managing the course, and supporting the new teachers to this meditation space, I could not choose to leave and so I had to find a way to sit with the hot, humid temperatures and stay aware, awake and alert in my meditation practice throughout the day.
So during the meditation sitting periods, I sat and practiced with determination and a strong will.
I observed different sensations in my body caused by the warmer temperatures…
… heat, perspiration, drowsiness…
… changes in my breathing, my heart rate, my body temperature…
… discomfort, pain, pressure …
By persevering with the meditation practice (despite the sleepiness that wanted to wash over me), and just observing the sensations, focusing on my breathing, being aware of the changes in my body, without reacting, it helped me to:
- strengthen my ability to accept unpleasant situations as they are without multiplying my suffering by adding a negative mental element to the mix;
- understand and manage these same sensations when they are tied to emotions like anger, frustration and fear; and
- build my equanimity muscle.
As the day went on, the temperatures rose, the complaints and requests flowed, and more distractions were added, but my determination to meditate as much and as best as I could, helped me to stay calm and cool inside. My inner coolness helped me to better handle the unexpected gas leak repairs, the unplanned construction inside the building, and the competing requests and demands on my limited time to enable the meditation course to run as smoothly as possible. … and I’m glad I stuck it out without self-complaining, because I learned a great deal and, it seemed easier for me to deal with the heat and humidity as the day went by.
I came across this apt reflection by yogi and meditation teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in the United States, which is written in his book, Metaphysical Meditations, that I’d like to share with you:
“Today I will meditate no matter how tired I think I feel.
[Today I will meditate no matter how hot I think I feel.]
I will not allow myself to be a victim of distracting noise while trying to meditate.
I will transfer my consciousness to the inner world.”
So whether it is hot or cold,
whether it is noisy or quiet,
whether you are tired or fully energized,
I encourage you to find the time daily to pause,
be aware of your mind and your body,
be open to the new learnings,
grow in your practice and
take the steps on the path to living an abundant life!