June 24, 2018

This is Why I Don’t Meditate.

There are some things that fit easily into my daily routine—things that I must do for the day to operate smoothly.

These things include: doing yoga first thing upon rising, making the kids’ lunches before they are out of bed, getting water and snacks into my work bag, doing the dishes before bed, and writing daily.

Sitting down to meditate is not on this list.

I started my journey into meditation while receiving physical therapy for broken wrists in 1991. My therapist told me to find a way to “go somewhere else” while she worked on me. I got some books from the library and began a practice that is now integrated without needing to be named.

I don’t call it meditation anymore, because letting my mind separate from what is happening in my physical world happens without effort. I don’t sit down with a cushion and clear my calendar for any length of time. Yes, occasionally I will listen to a guided meditation on my phone to get some new ideas. Mostly, though, I have learned that my best meditative state happens when I am not planning or focusing on it.

Driving down the highway, I count the white lines and let loose my mind. Doing the dishes, I observe myself and my breath. Walking to the store, I measure my gait and let the rhythm of my steps transport me. Folding clothes, I bask in the glory of the perfect stacks. Gardening, I turn the compost while tuning my thoughts to the frequency of star sound.

Can this be meditation?

I have read books, listened to podcasts, attended lectures and courses, and studied Baba Ram Dass and Jainism. I have slept in the monasteries of Kyoto and Asahikawa to rise at the 4 a.m. gong and sit zazen. I have been cleansed by the smoke of 500 sage branches.

And still, I find meditation to be a dirty word—at least for me.

Meditation has become a buzzword. And I have shied away from trends and fitting in my whole life, so if you ask me if I meditate I will say, “Yes, and no.” In yoga classes, when the teacher invites a moment of stillness, I can easily fall into my favorite visualization of the serpent slithering through me, lighting up my chakras as she passes and coiling up to rest above my head in my eighth chakra, just above the sahasrara.

And still, I don’t meditate. This is because to “meditate” has connotations of effort and technique. Planning a time to fit meditation into my life is impossible. Instead of naming my practice meditation, I choose to leave my practice undefined. This frees me to renovate, reuse, alter, add to, and extrapolate when needed.

So, come join me in a mindful/mindless state; let’s level up our conscious connections to each other and the world around us. Let’s not meditate—together.


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Shauntel Cooley

author: Shauntel Cooley

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