My 1,000 day vow.
I thought I would share the answer here:
The vow for my meditation practice is actually my second 1,000 day vow.
The first one was for Tai Chi.
At 21 I was 396 pounds, getting bigger and incredibly sedentary. I had a moment of clarity and realized I had to change. Among the changes was getting regular exercise.
When I was a kid I did Judo for a couple of years and have had a life long respect for and love of the martial arts. I heart Bruce Lee!
I reached for the available tool, which was a video and book on Tai Chi Chih, as well as Paul Crompton’s excellent book, “The Tai Chi Workbook.” I began to practice daily and write down what exercise I did every day (along with what I ate.)
My plan was inspired by having overheard that in order to break the physical habit of smoking you need to stop for 21 days. I wanted to build a habit, so that sounded like a good goal to me. I got to work.
A few days in I read an article in a fitness magazine that in order to get to the point where you miss a workout when you miss one, you need to follow a workout routine for 5 and a half weeks. So, I changed the goal to that.
Then a friend who has a long background in Kung Fu quipped, “In martial arts I always heard it was 1,000 days to mastery.”
I was sold.
It was such a romantic idea – practice for 1,000 days to achieve Tai Chi mastery and master my body.
Day 27 was rough. Day 511 was a breeze.
I decided some point near the end I needed to do something dramatic to commemorate the conclusion. So I fasted for the last 11 days, did not speak, did forms for 9 hours a day and meditated for 2 and a half hours, read for 3 and slept for 4. A couple of hours in I realized there was no way in hell I was going to make it.
Then I had another moment of clarity: I could not make the full 11 days, nor did I have to. All I had to do was this one breath, this one movement, this one moment. I felt the tremendous love and support of my friends and family pushing me forward, all wanting me to succeed. That’s how I got through.
So, when I decided that I needed to make a regular practice out of meditation I went back to my vow. For 1,000 days I would meditate everyday. I started at 12 minutes, and ramped up in a few months to 32 where I stayed for the duration. I had a couple of periods in there of longer practice, like when I spent a week as a guest-student retreatant at Green Gulch Zen farm. That sort of thing.
1,000 days may seem like a lot, but it’s really not. Not as you do it, and not after you are done. You never have to do 1,000 days. You just have to do this one.