Take 5 Tuesday: Is Structure a Saving Grace?

I’ve been on both sides of the discipline debate when it comes to meditation. I started off with demanding teachers who insisted on daily practice of at least one hour, preferably, at the same time and place, and on a certain kind of cushion. Being much younger and physically more flexible, this worked. After all, I wasn’t particularly disciplined in other areas, this could only be good for me.

But over time, I began to see that despite all the techniques and rules I had mastered, I wasn’t leading a significantly more disciplined or orderly life. So I eased up a bit, and began to go for the joy, not the pain. If I didn’t really enjoy meditation, what was the point? I shifted from my hold on discipline to a grasp at grace. I began to experience freedom in a little bit of structure. Where, when and for how long were the variables in my practice, but just committing to meditating every day gave me enough structure, and positive reinforcement, to keep going.

And that’s when I noticed a shift. My days got better. The same things still  annoyed me, but I had created a context of watchfulness. I could watch that annoying situation without allowing it to hijack or ruin my day. I was grateful for those early teachers and solid structures. Create your structure and grace will pour in. Contain your self and see for yourself:

1. Clear a space for a comfortable meditation. Close your eyes. Breathe in fully through the nose, and breathe out a beat or two longer through the nose or mouth. Repeat for several rounds.

2. Experience your “inner self” being held in a precious container. You may first have to filter out the “mud” that clogs this container before filling it with the pure essence of your being. Or, visualize this container holding the bigness of your spirit, clarity of your mind, and vibrancy of your body. 

3. After meditation, remind yourself to keep the container. A container for grace has a long “self” life. 


About sheilaklewis

As a writing coach, meditation teacher, writer, and academic tutor, I'm passionate about words and the silent spaces between words. In this context, I run book clubs and writers' groups where the resonance of carefully crafted words can spark readers and writers to share their own stories. Connecting through conversation; making memories matter; embracing editing and revision, and imaginative wordplay are some solo and collective outcomes. I came to what I call my "Meditate Write Now" practice after years of art-making, writing grants, curriculum, children's stories, and more. Meditation kept my mind from meandering too far off point and also led me to write from the still point within. May our paths cross in creative journeys across time and internet connections! Other details: My husband and I are the parents of two amazing sons and one daughter-in-law, and smitten grandparents of Micah (born December, 2013). I don't drive, and have lived in the same apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, for too long.
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3 Responses to Take 5 Tuesday: Is Structure a Saving Grace?

  1. Pingback: Take 5 Tuesday: Is Structure a Saving Grace? | sheilaklewis

  2. Margarita says:

    I, too, started with a more rigid structure that, over time, has become flexible enough to accommodate daily fluctuations. Structure not only creates a container, it gives me something from which I can deviate when necessary and to which I can return when I’m ready. Thanks! xoM

    • sheilaklewis says:

      Yes, that’s the good thing about structure in anything–it is always there to also break from when the time is ripe. We never want to be too rigid or too loose, something organically in the middle, and ever changing and evolving.

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