June 15, 2019

Calming the Monkey Mind: the Art of Meditation for Busy People.



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Perched in front of an empty white page, illuminated by the blue hue of my computer, my mind is everywhere else but on the article due later today.

The daily noise of life seems loud, and I feel like an empty shell.

I wonder why, when we set out on a creative endeavor, any idea we might have had seems to pack up and leave the planet. What is that exact moment that cuts us off at the neck from trusting ourselves to write, paint, sing, dance, teach, or do any other thing that asks us to go beyond what we know?

So, here I sit. This takes a whole lotta patience wrapped with love when one is trying to downshift from running around all week like a headless chicken. Hmmm, another neck reference…which makes me think of how mine is sadly sagging and maybe I do need to spend a gazillion dollars on that miracle crème I saw online.

I digress.

I set the meditation timer. I prop myself up with more than the usual number of pillows under my hips—I feel that I need more support. Not just physically, but emotionally. Like I need to be held.

Sitting in my happy place outside on my deck, I immediately notice the melodies of the birds. High and low notes, some clipped chirps, and some longer like a violin. I wonder if one is the cherry red cardinal and his Mrs. that I see around our wooden bird feeder. And maybe some are the cute, plump, round chickadees?

The hushed sounds of faraway traffic remind me of what you hear when you put your ear up close to a conch shell. How I love the ocean. It makes me exhale a little bit easier.

The color behind the curtains of my eyelids is vibrant. Pulsating hues of orange and blue. The aroma of the lavender lilac I planted last week wakes up my sense of smell. My mind wanders to the overflow of laundry in the wicker hamper. It also manages to completely veer off and worry about what class I will plan for later today. Instead of scolding myself for drifting, I gently remind myself to come back to my seat as if I were guiding a distracted child away from a shiny new toy.

This is an improvement over how I occasionally hit myself in the head with a verbal hammer when noticing that the mind has run off somewhere to fix and frolic.

As I sit, the sun is shifting and I can feel the warmth on the back of my hand spreading to shine across the span of my back. The front side of my body is shaded, and I think how the moon must feel when its face lights up from the axis of the sun. The darker side more reflective, cooler, internal. My mind pings about how I forgot to go to the bank and the barren refrigerator that needs attention. I have a moment of wanting to give in. Okay, many moments. But I don’t. I just sit and become internally watchful. Shedding the layers of internal noise little by little. I start to settle into this one moment. The one that cannot live in regrets of the past or worries of the future.

The taste in my mouth has remnants of strong coffee. Overly aware that I need to brush my teeth. Instead, I soften my jaw and rest my tongue at the soft tip of the palate as if I was going to say the word love. How can I be gentler with myself? How can I lean into the moments of feeling like I don’t know? I sigh a deeper exhale.

The soft wind is brushing my skin, almost like a caress from a lover. The sound travels through the lush, green oak and ash trees behind our log cabin. I hear the ocean again. Like waves, I simply keep coming back to my seat. A breath comes in and a breath goes out.

For a moment, there is a brief pause between thoughts. That space. That space where I don’t know where I am, except that it feels peaceful. Present. Possible.

The gong of the timer echoes, and I linger a little longer swimming in the stew of nothingness. It feels as if a new door and my eyes have opened at the same time. Do I know what’s on the other side of the door? No. But I do know there is no way to know, to grow, or to learn, without stepping through that door.

So I write the first word, dance the first step.

And I tell myself: Let yourself not know how. Just start.

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