Christmas has passed, the portal of winter solstice behind us. Many of us ask, “now what?” Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. Many of my students and clients say, “In 2023, I will meditate…never done it before but it’ll be good for me.” Or, “I tried it once and it didn’t work, but I’ve heard it helps with stress.”
I’m glad to hear those words because, indeed, current science, philosophy, and psychology validate these ancient practices. Meditation can have, for many of us, all the benefits we read about. Yet it might look and sound something like this:
I wake up early. Plenty of time for morning practice. I’ll hit the yoga mat, then sit on the cushion as I have for 40 plus years. Today, I wake up like any other day and I’d rather check emails, texts, all those super important things that for sure can’t wait until after 7:00 a.m. I wake up today like any other day, with “I-don’wanna,” with resistance, with “anyway I’m still crazy after all these years, so why bother.” One teacher says, “You don’t have to want to do it. You don’t have to be motivated or inspired. Like the Nike ad, ‘Just do it.’”
Sometimes the rebel in me hates that. Does this master know the agitated mind that lives in my head? He says, “It’s not your mind, it’s the mind. We all have minds that wander, even the Dalai Lama.”
Another teacher speaks of our human brain, meant to think and solve problems and of course, it will engage with its cogitating super powers when we decide to sit still. He says, “welcome to the club.”
My mats and my cushions live in my condo in two strategic locations. I would trip on them if I didn’t walk around them. Every morning I see them beckoning with a sort of invitation, a sort of, “Good morning, Sue, welcome.” Invitations are indeed welcoming. Ok, ok, I concede. I start on the mat, not so much in what we know as yoga, but more what my teacher Nancy calls, “yoga-ish.” I try this neck rotation, that shoulder shrug, hear the crackling, the cracking, notice how it feels. I breathe. Is the breath shallow or deep just now? Can I tell? Good morning breath. The mind interrupts, hijacks attention, “Enough. It’s been five minutes already. Don’t you have more important things to do?” Some days I surrender to that “important things to do” voice. Sometimes I stay on the mat, simply saying hello to the day, to the body, to the breath. And then the meditation, the hardest part. Did I mention the busy mind which chatters:
“Will that dear friend text me?” (future)
“I forgot the send that email last night.” (past)
“Did the grandkids like their gifts?” (past)
“Will my husband want oatmeal this morning?” (future)
“What am I supposed to be doing here anyway?…….”
If I can sit long enough, patiently trusting the process, in the way of teacher Sylvia Boorstein, who says, “Don’t just do something. Sit there,” the answers come. Calm grows. Rest arrives. Focus happens. The possibility of inner stillness in the midst of the pull to past and future shows itself right here and right now.
If your New Year’s Resolution includes a curiosity about a relationship to the present moment, please join me as I donate a morning for opening the door into mindfulness and meditation at the Falmouth Memorial Library, Saturday January 14 for a free “what’s this all about?” session. 10:30-noon. Beginners and seasoned “I don’-wanna” folks welcome.