On 'Day 26' - roughly 3 months ago - I joined an on-line meditation support group called '100 days' and, though up until that point I hardly knew what meditation was, I was committed to trying and I have meditated, even if only for ten minutes, almost every day since. Tomorrow, the first day of 2006, under a brand new banner, we will start another hundred days.
'100 Days' was started by Dale (whose beautiful blog, incidentally, is one of my regular reads). There are currently about ten people commenting on a daily basis, sharing their struggles, insights and breakthroughs, debating, or merely just mentioning the fact that they did or didn't sit today. We have meditated in baths and on station platforms, in supermarket queues and in vineyards; we have taken breaks from family rows to breathe or paid attention to the sound of our environment on city or forest walks; we have shut ourselves in an office at lunch-time with a candle or in a dressing room before a performance with an alarm clock. We have meditated with dogs vomiting and cats licking, children screaming and partners humming.
On Day one hundred, from all corners of the world, we tried to meditate together. This, in my case, meant paying special attention to my breath at the end of an unscheduled sectional rehearsal, rushing back to a hotel in freezing rain, ordering lentils and rice from the Indian restaurant next door, rushing up to my room, showering, and sitting for 10 minutes while my take-away was being prepared and my hair dried, before running back to the concert drenching my black satin hem and new layered coiffure. I am sure I caught the tail end minute of our group sit. Mostly, of course 'sitting' has been calmer than that but that day I wouldn't have missed the party for anything!
In July I packed a suitcase for two months in Salzburg. In it I placed a swimming costume, goggles, walking boots, a meditation handbook, an ipod and a guided meditation cd. I was going to get fit and I WAS going to meditate! I swam and cycled every day but did I meditate once?
Since then, this group of people has supported my practice in cyberspace from Bedoin to New York to Paris, and I am beginning to feel the subtle changes as a result. It is a life-long journey but at least I have begun.
100 Days is open to absolutely everybody, and by that I do not mean just in principal. It is open to all traditions from Buddhist through Christian, Humanist, to Agnostic, all levels of experience from zero pleb to zen master and all manner of folk. The only requirement is a commitment to a form of meditation and a desire to uphold that commitment.
I have a fantasy that, in our internet driven world, such a group could grow and grow, and that the repercussions could be huge. There are so many people willing, yet unable to choose a discipline, unable to be in the same place at the same time every week (let alone every day), or who simply cannot do it without support. 100 Days by no means replaces the real live experience of meditating together or the guidance of a 'master', but it has changed my life and that's good enough for the moment.
Please, if you want to meditate and want support, join us for the next hundred days!
Happy New Year!.