A couple of weeks back I had an early morning Hawaiian Airlines flight to catch to Honolulu. In flight time the journey is a hop, skip and jump. Throw in airport time and it can take just as long as any long haul flight from parking the car to getting to the gate. And this was rush hour. For the flight that I was catching, to manage the commuter traffic a slightly larger aircraft is made available than the usual interisland airplane.
The road from my home to the airport takes me past Ho’okipa, a surfing hotspot here on Maui. The sun had not risen when I left home, just the glow in the sky of a new day starting. Ho’okipa is a State Park and as such has its entrances locked shut each night. They are not open again until just after sunrise. This does not stop the surfers.
In the early hours of the morning, cars will park up on the side of the road, the surfers will jump out, get their gear together and with surf boards under their arms climb over the gate and head down to the water. They might have work starting in a few hours, have to return home later to look after kids, or be planning a whole morning there. No matter, getting out of bed early presents them with an opportunity to get in the water and perfect their sport, while the rest of us are still tucked up or fumbling for our first cup of coffee.
I have no time
As I drove past these early morning enthusiasts my thoughts turned to meditation. Like everything in my life, if I want to make meditation a part of it, it requires me to make time. I quite often hear the comment from people thinking of starting a meditation practice, that they don’t have time. But those early morning surfers found some time. I know people who will go and catch a few waves before work or other day time commitments that they have. Ironically one of them told me recently that he would like to meditate but couldn’t find the time. I pointed out to him his early morning (or sometimes late night by full moon) surfing exploits - he laughed!
I think that the success or otherwise of finding that time to meditate depends on the rewards that an individual receives from the practice, and how those rewards help my rebelling mind push aside the sacrifices - sleep, etc - that we are prepared to make. As I start to feel the benefits of meditation, I am more prepared to make the time for it to happen…or in those times when days are very busy, like the early flight that I had, to sit quietly in the airport as opposed to checking my phone. This does not mean that there are times when I prefer to stay in bed (or whatever the sacrifice is), indeed occasionally I give myself a rest and do, but I feel that their are benefits to be made and so I get up.
Another strategy to keeping the practice going is to find a community with whom to meditate, or if that is not possible, a remote buddy, someone who you check in with regularly to see how each other’s practice is going - or you text them a message just before you sit.
One does not make it a chore, but rather recognizes that in building any new habit there will be times when it is easy and other times when you just do not want to be there - but you show up anyway, even if you just feel as though you are going through the motions.
Back to those surfers
I often think of those early morning surfers. Their time in the water is that important to them that they are prepared to make that early morning sacrifice. Maybe that is not how they experience their early morning dips, but that is how it works for me. By the time the sun is warming the island, they have put their time in - whether that is for training or fun - their surf time is under their belt.