As of late, I am again falling very deeply and madly in love with meditation. As I navigate the hailstorms of unexpected transitions, I am reminded of its tremendous beauty and value.
Mornings upon waking I sit, just like the hundreds of days before, though these mornings are different in tone. They are heavy with aftershocks of rapid change, with emotional flurries that are unpredictable and beyond my control.
I start by checking in with body, heart, mind. Dropping beneath the surface of (very compelling) stories and feeling, acknowledging, allowing. And then, a vow, which I repeat each morning as a reminder of my very deepest intention for my life. I adapt the words of one of my teachers, Sarah Powers (who herself adapted the phrasing of meditation teacher Stephen Batchelor):
I vow now to open to Awareness, to awaken, for my own benefit and for the benefit of all beings.
I appreciate its immeasurable value.
I believe it is possible for me, exactly as I am in this moment, inclusive of all circumstances, all feelings, all conditions.
Yoga literally means “union.” It is a path of integration, and each time I internally repeat this aspiration, I am reminded that every single moment, sensation, emotion, thought, and external situation can be offered to the altar of practice. Nothing is to be rejected, excluded.
And so I sit. Rage. Let it be, return to the breath. Sorrow. Let it be, return to the breath. Resistance. Guilt. Fear. Shame. Blame. Let them be, back to the breath.
Then, many minutes later, space. Beneath the surface storms there is profound stillness, unalterable peace. I am moved by the realization that everything is absolutely and fundamentally OK.
With each passing year of practice, I come to trust more deeply and access more quickly this peace without conditions, without limitations. It is here for all of us – indeed, the teachings of yoga insist that it is our birthright to know this peace as our true nature. Particularly during painful times of transition, of loss, the practice becomes exhilarating and empowering medicine. My eyes and heart are wide open as I dedicate myself again and again.
Note to reader: Meditation: you’ve probably heard that it’s good for you. What you might not know is that you don’t have to be “spiritual” to meditate, and you don’t even have to “believe” in it. Oh, and your mind can (and will) be wild! You just have to practice. And keep practicing. (Of course, the meaning of practice will change organically over time).
If you’re new to meditation, there are innumerable teachers and styles from which to choose. Find a teacher/teachings that resonate with you, a book that makes some sense, and make a commitment, however small. 5 minutes every morning upon waking will do to start.
I always recommend books/audio material from Pema Chodron to beginners, but find someone/something that resonates with you. And then stick to that with gentle discipline.