Somehow I started writing about my experience trying meditation. You can read about my adventures in Vipassana here if you missed them.
SPOILER ALERT: I did not get enlightened.
I made earnest but ultimately vain attempts over the rest of the retreat to get back to that meditative high I attained for approximately 15 seconds on Day 5. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted. Despite the brevity of my spiritual achievement I left the retreat completely inspired and determined to sit every day at home, to really make a practice of this meditation. I was a new woman.
I think that lasted for three days. I guess I was the same old woman after all.
I will say this though: over the course of that ten days I did internalize something about the philosophy underpinning the technique, if not the practice itself. I return again and again to the idea that my cravings and aversions are value-neutral, that it is my reactions to them that send me to the place Buddhists call suffering. On bad days, I still find myself chasing the sugar- or wine- or resentment- or pride-dragon down the path of diminishing returns. On good days, I can choose to notice but not to react.
For Ezra's second birthday we gathered with friends and family at a playground near our house. I bought mini-cupcakes from a friend who is a talented baker and we were all happy when the time came to light the candles and dig in. Ez was just barely two, meaning my zealous resolve to maintain the firewall between him and sugar had not yet eroded, so chocolate cupcakes were a special treat.
He happily snarfed down one and asked for another. Being the magnanimous mother of the birthday boy how could I refuse? He popped the entire mini-cupcake into his mouth and made the only sign he had picked up at school: more.
More? You haven't even chewed the one that's in your mouth! Two cupcakes is enough! The response was predictable.
There I was, trying calm my two-year-old: Just chew the cupcake that is in your mouth, sweetheart. You don't have to crave the cupcake. You have the cupcake already. Just be in this moment. And there I was, thinking This is SO Buddhist right now.
I understand that actual Buddhists might think I have this thing all wrong. Maybe I do. I make no claim to being an expert in that religion or philosophy. But this has become one of my personal mantras in the year or so since then. Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth. Just be in this moment. I forgot about it lately, but when it started to come back to me yesterday I thought, time to write this down.
So here we go, deep breath.
Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth. Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth. Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth.