By Judy Merritt.
I strive to make the journey into the stillness of my breath each and every day. Each day is different. The one thing I know for sure is that I need to make the journey before I do anything else. Because once I start moving through my day, it’s hard to sit down and even harder to navigate my way through my mind.
My first step on this journey is to find an appropriate place to sit. Sometimes I make it to my yoga room, but sometimes I don’t trust myself to get that far. My bedroom is at the back of the house – my yoga room at the front. There are many obstacles along the way. If for some reason I didn’t do the dishes the night before, they’re practically shouting at me to pay attention to them as I walk through the kitchen.
On those days, it is best just to sit cross-legged in my bed, propped against my pillows, with straight spine of course. And I start breathing, in hopes I can get a few good breaths in before my thoughts take off like a bunch of wild horses. If that happens, I can usually manage a few more.
Cool mornings, I place my meditation stool in front of the gas heater, with my back to the heat facing the east window at the end of the hallway. That’s one of my favorite places to meditate. The only place in my house that I like better is sitting in front of the wood stove when it is burning. That’s also where I do yoga in the winter. It’s sometimes challenging keeping the cats off my yoga mat.
A few days each week when I carve the luxury of time to do asana before meditation, I make it all the way to my yoga room. (Except on days it is too cold to try to heat it.)
Most meditation books advise to find a place to meditate. So much for sticking to the rules. So once I’m seated in the appropriate place for the day, the process is pretty much the same. Sit with straight back. Breathe. Place my hands in mudra. Recite a mantra or a prayer. Follow my breath. Acknowledge any thoughts and let them pass by like so many clouds scuttling across the sky. I’m walking along the trail of my breath with the sky above and the earth below. Some days I luxuriate in the moment. Others, I don’t even get to the trail.
Then there are those days that I wonder what the heck I’m doing just sitting.
“What good is it doing anyway?” My mind has to ask. “You’ll get a lot farther by letting me skip and jump,”
“Ha!” I respond, “I’ve sat long enough to know that my mind is full of bull…. sometimes and this is one of the times.”
Those days, I don’t get anywhere. It’s frustrating, really.
But I keep setting out on the journey each day in hopes of another luxurious day.
Frustrating meditation, luxurious meditation, it doesn’t really matter because the benefits of meditation become woven throughout the day. The longer over time that I meditate, the more I understand and feel those benefits.
It’s like my heart has cracked open and what was left is softening. That has changed me. I feel more compassion for myself and others. I am able to breathe and stay present in situations that I have avoided in the past. I am more present in my life in general. Not completely, but more and more.
I have heard or read, though I cannot put my finger on the source, that we only experience five per cent of reality. One experience leads me to believe that through meditation we can experience moments of a greater reality.
I experienced one of those moments. I was sitting at my daughter’s table. She was sitting next to me. My grandson and great-grandson were sitting in high chairs at the end of the table. One granddaughter and my other grandson were sitting across from me, sparring as only siblings can. I’m sure there was some exchange in conversation. I don’t recall.
What I do recall there was a moment that I can only describe as taking place outside of time and my normal sense of reality. Everything slowed down and I was watching our interactions from outside my body. I couldn’t really hear anything. Words didn’t seem important. But I could see a luminous grid made up of many angles that connected us. Not our bodies, but Us. Not only us, but everyone, everything, everywhere – Us.
“Is this real?” I asked myself.
“Yes,” the voice inside me that knows the unknown and sees the unseen answered.
And then I felt it…a deep sense of belonging, not just to my family – but to everyone, everything, everywhere. I have never had this feeling before. Just as I was sitting in awe of it, it was over.
That is where I believe the journey of meditation has taken me. You better believe I’m going to keep following this path. I’m sure I will discover many rabbit holes to explore along the way.