Susan Nelson

Adventures of a Meditator, Episodes #9-10

Susan Hills Nelson lives in Columbia, SC, and works as an attorney for Nelson Mullins Riley Scarborough. She has also been attending Ganden Kadampa Buddhist Center for about four years. This year, she made a New Year’s Resolution to meditate every day. She’ll be giving us weekly updates on this blog to let us know how it’s going.

Susan Nelson


April 15, 2004

Today was Buddha’s Enlightenment Day.

Today also marks week 10 of my daily meditation practice.  These past two weeks were probably my worst daily meditation record yet. I have a shrine and I usually change the tea and water offerings daily.  These past two weeks, on not one but two occasions, I discovered moldy tea on my shrine.  As benchmarks go, you can be fairly sure your spiritual practice, and your peace of mind, is going astray when you start leaving moldy tea for the Buddhas.

So I missed two days of meditation each week, which brings me to 6 total misses, I think.  On each occasion, I tried to meditate at night and fell asleep.  Never has sleep seemed so compelling as when you are attempting to do Heart Jewel practice at 11 pm.  You would think I would have learned my lesson by now.  Au contraire, dear cyber reader, I continue to attempt nighttime meditations somehow thinking I will improve at battling late night fatigue.

I am picturing myself now, talking to Green Tara at the end of my life, and explaining why I could not make more progress on the spiritual path:

Susan:  But I was working so hard all day.  I tried, really, I did.  I had some really nice meditations when I did manage not to fall asleep.  Can I get an A for effort?  By the way, I have never understood why people say A for effort when effort clearly starts with an E….

Green Tara:  Sleep can be a distraction, Susan, just like any other pleasure in samsara.  Your real problem lies in not being willing to sacrifice some precious sleep time in the morning in order to guarantee you would have a more peaceful day.  This is the laziness of not thinking about dharma.  You know very well that freedom and endowment are difficult to find.  Why would you waste more of your precious human life than is necessary on sleeping?

Susan:  You are right.  You are always right.  Does it get annoying being right all the time?

Green Tara:  No, there is nothing annoying about spontaneous bliss and emptiness, Susan.  I am always happy, despite being all knowing.

Susan:  Noted.  Next time less sleep, more meditation.  And now back to samsara…

I did make progress in a couple ways these past few weeks.  First, I was reading the back of the New Meditation Handbook where it explains what to think about in each of the preparatory practices in Prayers for Meditation.  So instead of going on auto pilot, I really slowed down my prayer practice and gave myself time to think about what each section meant.  This was very helpful.  I was also able to stay more focused on my object after generating a strong wish to remain focused throughout the session.  Who would have guessed?  Intention is pretty darn important.  Thank you, Geshe-la, for writing such helpful and practical instructions.

Second, I did Liberation from Sorrow on several occasions.  This is such a beautiful practice.  I think that is my favorite sadhana after Powa.  And I must say, doing Liberation from Sorrow right before sleep does set you up for some  pretty awesome dreams.  Thank you, Green Tara.  You were right.  (Shocker.)

Finally, despite some fairly difficult work conversations this week, there have not been any occasions where I felt totally overwhelmed or angry or mad.  For the most part, my mind has been pretty calm lately.  Hopefully I am not jinxing myself by noting that the ocean of my mind is seeing some fairly smooth sailing of late, with minor whitecaps, but no rough seas.  Thank you, cyber readers, for making me meditate.


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