Martine & Stephen


Why do we meditate?  Because we can.  There can be many reasons to meditate but the main one is that we are able to do so.  We are able to sit still and watch our breath or ask a question like: “What is this?”.  This is not an obvious thing to do – to sit still and do nothing or to walk and go nowhere.

This became obvious to me a few years ago when my mother on a summer afternoon, because I was not keen to go and have drinks with some of her friends, said to me:  “Oh! Really you are not sociable.”  I am generally friendly and try to be kind and communicative if I meet people, but I am also quite happy to be quiet and by myself.  I believe it is because I am quite at ease with being quiet that it is not difficult for me to just sit still and meditate for many hours.  This inclination does not make me special at all.  Also it does not mean that people who are more restless and outgoing cannot meditate but it could be more difficult for them at times.

Each of us has different inclinations and tendencies, which will help us or not when we meditate.  Since meditation requires quite a range of qualities, anyone can at least have one of them like determination, patience or energy and work on others, which might not come so naturally.  In Korea when I used to be a Zen nun, the Korean nuns were amazed that I did not sleep sitting in meditation (it was one of their greatest obstacles).  I could not sleep because I was thinking too much and physically I could not be so comfortable -- so each to his/her own difficulties and facilities.

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