Today is the second anniversary of my daily meditation practice. I’ve gone 730 days without missing a day of meditation. It’s probably the longest run I’ve ever had with any intentional activity. Even during all my years as a musician, there were certainly days I didn’t practice or play.
I’ve been meditating on and off for about 15 years. I first became interested in Buddhism when I lived in Japan from 1996-98, and then started meditating and reading with various levels of seriousness a couple years after that.
Two years ago today, when this daily practice began, I was in New York City, midway through my Jazz Or Bust tour. I was staying at the home of my friends Daryl and Deborah in Brooklyn. I had no permanent home, carried everything I needed in a backpack, and I was traveling the US and Canada as part of a 6-month, 13,000-mile bus tour of jazz and poetry. I was at the tail end of a beautiful relationship, and I hadn’t yet come up with a plan for after the tour. All that uncertainty was probably what pushed me to really focus on making meditation part of my everyday life.
One year ago today I was living in Auburn, Alabama. I’d lost my permatemp job at the university and had just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring back my show, The Jazz Session. Within a couple weeks I’d be on the road once again, first to Detroit, then to PA, then to NYC and then back to PA, where I decided to live.
Tonight, I’m living in State College, PA. I have a great job. I’m in the same town as my two young sons. My personal life has its ups and downs, but I’m in the best place I’ve ever been as far as my mental health goes. I feel more grounded and more able to deal with my emotions than ever. And I have a strong sense of who I am. I owe a lot of that to the time I’ve spent on the cushion over the past two years. Therapy and drugs have helped, too.
So thank you to everyone who’s helped me find a quiet space on the road for meditating. Thanks to my mentor, Josh Korda, for all his help over the past year. Thanks to the friends and family who’ve supported me. And thanks to all of you for reading this.
One of my favorite things Josh says is the little mantra he uses in times of difficulty: “I love you. Keep going.” I use it now, too. And I recommend it to you. Tell yourself, whenever you need to hear it,
I love you. Keep going.