Remember snow globes? A little shake and the clear water is immediately clouded by a flurry of snow. But when held still, the water clears again and the snowman in the middle smiles at you. Meditation can have this effect on our minds, taking us from a blur of thoughts to a state of settled clarity. Most of us don’t realize how much time we live in a white out, unaware of our mind as it produces new thoughts that come on like blizzards. Sometimes, certainly not always, after meditation my mind feels like the snow storm has ceased and there is quiet—unbelievably delicious quiet. It is as if my thoughts have taken a vacation and gone somewhere else. Instead of the flurries and storms I am happy and settled right where I am, no matter where I am actually.
One of my favorite quotes from teacher and poet, Adyashanti is, “Let your mind swirl itself into blessed exhausted silence.” For most of us this inner stillness is rare and precious. I know for sure that when most of us sit to meditate, set out on a mindful walk or onto the mat for Yoga, our mind is anything but quiet. And that’s fine—minds wander. Returning to the practice is absolutely part of the practice. I’ll never forget Jack Kornfield, one of the founding teachers of insight meditation in the west saying, “It doesn’t matter what happens while you meditate–it matters that you meditate.” The room of 400+ people laughed, and he replied simply, “I’m serious.” I smiled and felt deeply relieved, because I am no stranger to a busy mind. And what I understand Kornfield was saying, and other brain researchers are saying is that meditation benefits us even if we are distracted, bored, or busy thinking as we are practicing. I suppose that is why it’s called practice, we just keep at it…. Forever. And slowly overtime the snow settles to the bottom and the water is truly clear.
Being a mother, wife, community member and working leaves me with precious little time for meditation. And while I do maintain a regular home practice, I have not attended an extended retreat since my children were born. I am relieved that many of my teachers call this period of a parent’s life an 18-year retreat. However the extended mental vacations of long meditation retreats I once relied on are not on my calendar for the next 15 years. so I’ve had to get creative. I found that mental mini-vacations are easier to fit into my life and still incredibly beneficial. Whether you, yourself are able to go on extended retreats or not, whether for reasons of parenthood or otherwise, these mini-vacations can benefit you too.
It began by surprise one day when I was gazing at a shaft of light in my living room, watching as the sun illuminated the golden particles dancing whimsically. My eyes relaxed and my view widened, so that I was seeing more of what was there without seeing any one thing in particular. My body left its forward leaning, productive mode, my breathing slowed and my mind got quiet. I was just there, being with sound, sensation and ease for the next few minutes. It was a wonderful mini-vacation.
Another mini-vacation occurred while walking down the street. The familiar “figuring it all out” thoughts began to beckon and I just shifted, let my eyes relax, felt my entire body without concentrating on any one part, and took a vacation from the usual flurry. My mind got quiet, the colors of the evening sky were exquisite, the smell in the air delightful.
Giving myself this kind of a break is easier then I once thought it to be. I think you may find this true as well. Because what we are doing is actually un-doing. We’re doing less, opening the mind for a moment rather then focusing it—on problem solving, memories, tasks… It is letting a moment live itself without any direction from us. It is wonderful!
After such a vacation my mind is refreshed and I feel connected to a clearer more authentic part of myself. The aftereffect of this is a deep feeling of contentment and ease…and there is no hotel bill or jet-lag.
Try it for yourself (but don’t try too hard).
There are few “doorways” in. Try the one that feels most natural to you.
- Relaxing your eyes, opening your vision.
- Sensing your body, without any one part taking focus.
- Pausing to do nothing for a moment
- Allowing the moment to show itself to you.
Join Rebekkah Next Month
Spring Workshop in Marin County – May 12, 2:00 – 5:00
Well-being for Women: http://enjoymindfulyoga.com/workshops.htm
Rebekkah teaches Embodied Presence through Mindfulness, Meditation and Gentle Yoga. Individual Sessions, Classes, Workshops and Retreats. For more information visit her website: http://enjoymindfulyoga.com/index.htm