May 16, 2013
I’d like to start by saying that I cringed as I wrote the title to this post. It brings to mind a funny college student wearing a choker and a beanie (even though it’s warm outside) who probably just got done hacky sacking on the quad. But still, I’m pressing forward because I had an interesting thought the other day:
I used to meditate lot in college when I wore chokers and hacky sacked on the quad (just kidding!! I never hacky sacked and we didn’t have a quad just a park where people sold drugs and nice old men played chess) but I do it less now, mostly because it’s just difficult to find the time. But whenever I take a yoga class, I always relish in those few minutes at the end where you sort of lie there in peace (and sometimes fall asleep on accident—just me?). I used to think of meditating as watching your thoughts go by “as clouds in the sky” because that’s a pretty classic instruction. But the other day, another more helpful analogy occurred to me.
The other morning in my yoga class when we were supposed to be “letting go”, I kept coming back to my to-do lists, worries, weekly errands—all of these things I already knew I had to do or concerns I already knew I had. None of them were new, none of them were things I hadn’t thought of before. In that moment I realized how much we rethink the same things over and over in our minds all our lives—maybe the characters or the scene changes, but the outcome and the feelings rarely do. Our fears, our errands, our to-do lists aren’t ever going to go away and they shouldn’t as they’re part of what keep us engaged, challenged and involved in our own lives. That’s where the flaw is in thinking about these habitual, narrative-like thoughts in our minds as ‘clouds in the sky’—we have no attachment to the clouds, no interest in them. And so it’s hard to liken our intimate, narrative thoughts to something so outside of us.
So instead of clouds in the sky, another image popped into my head from out of the blue and it really truly helped me to let go because it gave me a reason to let go. Want to hear it?
Imagine you’re walking with the loose leaf pages of a book you’ve read a thousand times. The book is all of your worries, dreams, hopes, fears, to-do lists, errands, relationships and concerns. It’s your fear of flying, your dream job, your hatred of confrontation, your wishlist. The book is everything in your life that you already know or believe to be true about yourself, your past, your future, your present—it’s everything you think and everything you are and so you cling to it and reread it everyday, a hundred times because it’s the story of you. And now, imagine a breeze comes along, pleasant and gentle, and as it does something in you has the urge to just let go of the pages (try and put your environmental concerns aside as part of the exercise:). And so you do. And as you do, the wind picks up, a wild, blustery thing, and the pages scatter and as they do you lift your face to the sky and all you feel is the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair and for just a moment all of those pages you know by heart are just pages, fluttering around you in the wind. You have no wishlist, no goals or regrets and you see them for exactly what they are which is everything and also nothing at all.
So…do you ever meditate?
PS: More introspective posts.