The Slow Start

Whilst I sat for my evening meditation today I realised something about myself and I wondered if this thing might be true of others. The things I find hardest to do aren’t those which take the longest to finish but those that take the longest to start.

Meditation is a strange discipline. You sit. You breathe. You sit and breathe. You follow the breath and sit and breathe and sit. Of course there’re other variations on the theme but this is the central part. Sit, breathe, be.

If I set out to sit for twenty minutes sometimes I find myself wishing it was over sooner. But this only happens at the start. As long as I can remain with it for five minutes this desire passes and I find myself settling, feeling the stillness, enjoying the presence. It’s the beginning, you see. The beginning can be a little slow. You see, the thing I was waiting for wasn’t really for the thing to end. I was waiting for it to start.

I think, perhaps, this is true more generally. Exercise can be a slow starting thing. The feeling that you’re really in it, making progress, can take hour or weeks. Same is true for diet, learning a foreign language and, as it happens, the creative flow.

When you start out on a creative journey it can feel like wondering in the wilderness for a time. Often this leads people to wish the thing were over and so they leap to obvious, unoriginal answers. They bypas the entire thing because it takes too long to start.

That’s why the beginning is so important when starting is slow. You need to prepare the mind for patience and clarity, acceptance and presence. And also for curiosity and playfulness. Finding the fun in a slow start is part of the skill. For this you need your playfulness radar tuned up and ready to spot the smallest opportunity for joy and adventure.