Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

The groundhog is going to have a tough time today here in the north country. In December, the ground froze into an ice block due to no snow cover.

When my neighbor Connie wanted to roast some roots for Christmas Eve dinner, she took a hatchet to the garden because the spading fork just bounced off the frozen earth. (I can vouch that the resulting parsnips, carrots, potatoes, turnips, and caramelized onions were sweet and delicious!)

January brought snow, then a layer of ice, another layer of snow, another layer of ice. February began yesterday with several inches of snow, and today more snow.

That groundhog will need heaters on his paws and a hardhat on his head to tunnel through the tundra here. Or maybe he should just stay in bed. Sleep sounds so much more inviting.

Torpor, or sleepiness, is one of the 5 hindrances to our meditation. Torpor is SO seductive. I should know--i have taken many nap-lets on the meditation cushion. Summoning will is nearly impossible as energy drains right out of the body.

So i have become aware (= mindful) of the early warning signs of a doze. Here are my indicators. (Yours will be different.)

1) The breath feels like it drops off a cliff. It lets go. (This is a 1-second experience, so easy to miss.)

2) The breath has a 4-part pattern. First, a deep breath, followed by a slightly shallower breath, followed by a still shallower breath. The 4th breath is a very light breath, followed by a pause. That pause is heavenly.
Then the pattern repeats.

3) Nonsensical images or phrases arise. I call them dream-lets because they last about 1 second. I think i'm conscious, but the dreamlet is a mini-dream that's just about to ensnare me.

This is the time to stand up and practice standing meditation.

But the seduction continues. Oh, i'm awake now, i think. I'll just continue to sit. Z-z-z-z-z.

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