The idea of meditation has always intrigued and frustrated me in equal measure.
We constantly hear of the great benefits of meditation: peace of mind, better ability to process information, less stress, yada, yada, yada. But every time I’d sit with my legs crossed, ready to meditate, I’d get anxious. And then when guided to concentrate on my breath … well, I’d forget how to breathe or worse, I’d think myself into an asthma attack.
I thought meditation was a lost art on me. I was beginning to accept the fact that I will never have a calm mind or ninja-like senses. There are lots of things I’m good at; meditation didn’t have to be one of them. Still, I’d put on some annoying meditation music, and then I’d sit, cross-legged with my eyes closed and think “I can beat this meditation thing.” Well if that isn’t the furthest thing from a meditation-mind I don’t know what is!
Yesterday morning, I was sitting on the couch at the cottage. My legs were outstretched, there was no television or music. I was just staring blankly out at the tops of the trees, basking in the peace, watching the birds fly across the yard from trees to feeder with the timed precision of a busy airport. The cup of hot coffee rested easily in my hands, not drinking, just breathing in the steam, and letting the warmth of the cup penetrate my bones.
I was breathing deeply, softly focused, my mind was calm and I was fully present. Well, I was all that until I snapped out of it with a “Holy crap! I’m meditating!” thought.
Then, I started to wonder when else I’m in this state of …. Hmmmmm … what is that? Complete presence. It happens when I go for a walk or a hike without a camera. And when I sit on a busy beach, watching the busy-ness of children playing and adults trying to contain them. This sensation finds me on the boat with my fishing rod in hand, line in the water, waiting for the tug at the end of the line and enjoying the scenery while I wait. Oh, and I feel this state too when I sit at the dining room table at the condo, after Brian’s left for work, sipping my coffee and watching the sun rise.
Could these be what meditation looks like for me? There is no music, no candles, no singing bowls. I don’t even have anyone guiding me with prompts of what I should be sensing in any given moment. If it is possible that this is the state of mind, that meditation is supposed to get me to … well then HURRAH! I’ve done it! And the funny thing is that I’m in this state a lot these days. Sometimes I feel this total presence when I’m at the office doing simple data entry work, or when I’m home washing dishes.
Can we actually be in this state of presence more than we think we are?
What if meditation didn’t have to look at all like the lotus position in a dimly lit room? Can we actually be in this state of presence more than we think we are? HA! Can the image of what meditation is supposed to look like be keeping us from thinking we have that calm, present mind! Oh look! Another way to judge myself lacking!
I wonder what else I’m good at, that I think I suck at because it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to.