Due to sheer hubris, I latched on to the idea – sort of like glue – that I knew lots about meditation, no really, I did, and yet, when I sat down to it, I knew nothing. I mean really, absolutely nothing. Eventually, however, that simple act of sitting allowed me a glimpse of how much I needed to learn; learn how to be, how the mind worked, learn about ego and how to sit productively. I was short on time and completely out of practice, so of course, I figured, just a few days of meditation and the mind would fit into that notion of “I am pretty good at this.” I have since decided my ‘ego’, needed to take a very large break and um, “sitting” involved a close look at just how much work controlling the speed of the mind took.
I am always on a quest for time… summer holidays are almost over and we’ve traveled the world. We’ve spent time in a vacuüm, a space that is just for us, it has been blissful. In trying to hold onto that peaceful space, I realize I don’t want to get back on the road to drive. It is a long drive to school, an hour each way. The thing is I am now attached to that feeling of peace, and want nothing more than to avoid traffic and long hours in a car. So completely unrealistic of me when I have children.!! Training the mind requires a lot of work – It doesn’t quite end, it never ends, actually. They say sit and be aware, but when I sit, I’m aware of more than just sitting. When you think you’re over one hurdle, another one begins – sound familiar? kind of like life isn’t it? since I am always on the move, I try meditating on the go. My previous proper attempt was quite a serene experience. Not just a focus on breath, but more an extending of unconditional love to all beings; starting with myself. I was on a walk with my daughter’s class and there was a child who had recently been receiving treatment for a rare form of bone cancer, she looked frail and yet, somehow healthy, in that amazing juxtaposition of vitality and fragility only a child could display. I found as I walked, my thoughts focused on the little body, the skeletal structure and bones. I allowed myself to extend compassion and all the love I could, from this body to that little one- in a strange non-verbal exchange of vibrations and energy. It was really quite incredible to be so selfless in that moment. Lesson: Meditating on the go- an absolute must. Not in any way meant to be a substitute for a regular sitting. It is quite an experience. Oh, and being “present” mentally, is quite the challenge, no matter how many articles, books or websites tout their ability to help you, being present is kind of like respect. You earn it. You pummel the mind until it can be present, not taking one step back into the past or two steps into the future.. as in what do I make for dinner tonight or what time is soccer practice. All of this will explode in the mind when you sit quietly. More so than when you are immersed in a task. It is difficult to compartmentalize. You simply cannot put dinner thoughts, tomorrow’s thoughts and today’s activities into separate jars- ‘mental’ jars that is. When external disturbances are many, it is always better to accept the disturbances and see where they go when you give it a tiny bit of attention, and gently acknowledge the mind when your focus returns to simple breathing. If breath is an issue, you can count to 10 and back, as you watch the body breathe in and out. I mean, we don’t really spend time noticing our breath do we? we think it’s the most normal thing in the world, we can’t live if don’t breathe. Although we don’t really pay our breath any attention. However, in order to be present, aware and in that space, watching the breath becomes tantamount to reflection, where the mind wants to travel and how it thinks. The mind is your guide, it is an incredible tool, using it productively means you learn to live well. When you connect the mind to your body, they both function as one, it is really quite beautiful, it doesn’t always last but the practice is certainly worth your time.