What Keeps Us Coming Back to the Meditation Cushion?

Via A
on Apr 26, 2013
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Week 2: Share My Path Series.

The turmoil of September 11th, 2001 and the United States quick movement into war left many asking questions and seeking solace. It left Nancy feeling ‘dispirited.’

Born into a Christian tradition she’d continued on that path before abandoning it for the Bahia faith, a practice she kept for 10 years. But this too was abandoned as she found herself questioning any and all systems of belief.

Starting with Meditation for Dummies, Nancy, now in her 60s, stepped out of her self-described introverted bubble and allowed her curiosity to lead her in the direction of a small sangha in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh. The group aspect, she says, was key.

Nancy is at ease when she shares with me her first meditation experience: a slide-show of her childhood taking place behind her closed eyes. The flashing pictures surprised her but only in that there was nothing overly surprising in that time of her life.

Through time and training, Nancy found she grew able to pay closer attention to her body, how it seeks to distract. She found her ability to observe her surrounding became clearer. And she welcomed a growing capacity to recognize suffering.

Nancy laughed as she told me of her passionate past where she enjoyed and embraced her quick ability to react in conversation or confrontation. And while you can tell in speaking with her she hasn’t lost this, you’re also witness to a woman more mindful of her words and one whose compassion has grown out of her new awareness.

Sharing is now key for her, both money and time. And she links this to her continued practice.

photo: flickr/Ryan Oelke
photo: flickr/Ryan Oelke

When I broach the topic of what kept her practicing in the beginning she’s quick to answer: “the community,” she states, “both then and now.” It was through them that Nancy learned how to share and was offered the space and teaching to help her grow.

At the question of difficulties she’s also quick to answer: “detachment.” But she notes that in recognizing it she’s well down the right path.

As our meeting came to a close Nancy offers me one last glimpse into what keeps her going to the cushion—now a daily practice. “Whether it works or not,” she said, “I would most likely still be here, but having practiced, I can rest knowing that I actively participated in my life. The day doesn’t change, but it could change you.”

Well said Nancy, and I thank you for taking place in the Share My Path experiment.


Share My Path is an archival experiment seeking to build a repository of the paths taken by practitioners of meditation and is hosted here at elephant journal. If you’d like to have your path featured and made part of the archive please e-mail or find us here for more information. It only takes a short interview and your time will be rewarded in knowing you’ve shared with others and perhaps helped someone find their path.

Read the first article in the series here:

Your First Time: Sometimes It Hurts.

Accepting Sadness in Meditation.






Like elephant journal Meditation on Facebook.


Ed: Brianna Bemel


About A


9 Responses to “What Keeps Us Coming Back to the Meditation Cushion?”

  1. BennyB says:

    Love this. I'm digging on getsomeheadspace right now. Great easing into it guided style.

    However, being Christian-ish, my wife thinks it's demonic… thus I'm forced to be a closet meditator; despite the obvious calmness, the lack of stress when 2 of the 3 girls (under 5)… or all for that matter, are crying or fighting after a days work; the lack of arguments the past year, just noting when things are stressful rather than reacting to them, noting the rising emotional reactions but not acting on them…

    A huge change has gone unrecognized because to be open about it would likely mean something much worse.

  2. Eva says:

    Thanks Shane. Great post about the importance of meditation.

  3. Signe says:

    It is written all over psalms that we are to meditate. Romans 12 tells us to " be transformed by the renewing of our minds"
    God (yes the Christian God) calls us to meditate. peace to you & your wife whether she knows it or not she benefits from your practice!

  4. ShareMyPath says:

    A little inter-religious dialogue: wonderful. It is a hope of this project to share the paths of meditation of ALL who practice. Signe, by your use of the word 'us' I'm assuming you are of a Christian faith–and practice–; the project would be quite interested in sharing your path.

  5. BennyB says:

    Indeed. Unfortunately the indoctrination of most Christian religion (not all) today is such that any and all other religions are demonic; even when explaining the bible calling to be mindful there is a programmed response: on scripture, or on God, but not on the breath… that is new age…. being more aware of one's self, thoughts, actions is mis-focused, because the focus should be on God.

    However, I've come to realize it is not this. For the most of us, before we are exposed and get to learn about meditation, it's a life of monkey mind. 70%ish, from what I've read, of our lives is lost in thought. It's so amazing to feel, to think, to note and notice what I'm doing, how I'm feeling rather than being caught up in the torrent of these things I can see or pull myself out of these things when I do get caught up in them.

    This is the power of meditation, for me. This is what keeps me coming back (for a year now).

    Thus it is something action communicates better than words for me.

  6. Joann McCraw says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. I also find peace and enlightenment when i do yoga or meditation. There are times in our life when we are confuse and we don't know if we are still on the right path. Too many questions will arise and yet we can't seem to find answers. Good thing that a friend of mine introduce me to yoga. It was not easy at first but, slowly i knew how it was to be done and i find totally peace and i am so happy now with my life.

  7. ShareMyPath says:

    It's wonderful to have the support of the elephant community and I'm quite excited that this series has spurred conversation. Thank you all.

  8. Cushion is very important for practicing yoga. I have a cushion but it becomes old so I want to buy some new cushions for own-self. After seeing your cushions I'm very curious to buy this type of cushion. I'll buy this type of cushion as soon as possible.