Stopping Awhile (written 2002)
Much of the early reading I did about meditation made it seem complicated and exotic. Mindstates and stages of absorption were often described that, to me, an ordinary person, seemed beyond comprehension. Yet, a few years into this path, I have discovered a simpler truth. Meditation is not a project, as one of my teachers has reminded me. It is not about achieving something, marking up accomplishments. It need not be fundamentally different from things I did quite naturally before I had any instruction at all. Things so simple I didn't notice them. Meditation is stopping for awhile...and noticing “this”.
Meditation is what I do when my young son reaches for me at bedtime for one more hug. I stretch out then beside him and relax and feel his arms about my neck and his breath in my ear. I smell him and soak in his warmth and strength. I let myself be there.
Meditation is what I do when I let my coffee cup grow cool in my hands as I sit at the kitchen table in the morning. I watch the birds rising and falling at the feeders outside the window, the squirrels chattering and warning each other away as they take turns standing guard on the deck rail. I watch the signs of the seasons in the big evergreens that line the back of our yard. Snow gathered in the branches, tops swaying with winds, sun glinting off the deep greens.
Meditation is what I do when I turn a kitchen chair to watch the fish in our aquarium. Listening to the trickle and splash of the waterwheel. Watching the graceful dances and darts of the guppies, the shimmering scales and swift turns of the koi, the fluttering scarf-like fins of the goldfish.
Meditation is what I do when a favorite song comes on the radio and I turn up the volume and stand and sing with this tune and forget the dishrag in my hand.
Meditation is what I do when my husband and I snuggle close or hold hands, breathing together awhile in silence.
Meditation is what I do when I let the water of the shower run over my head and shoulders and stand with my face uplifted and eyes closed relishing the warmth and treasuring the moment.
Meditation is what I do when I close my eyes as I run on the treadmill in the morning and feel the slapping rhythm of my feet, the beating of my heart, the strength and capacity of this body.
These are moments in daily life. Moments when I forget myself and the mental constructs that define who and what I am. Wise teachers remind us such moments are sacred. Our own experience teaches us this.