Recently, I had a long conversation with a friend about meditation. She had earlier invited me to join her in attending a six week meditation course. “No, thanks,” I replied, “I think my own meditation is sufficient.” She looked at me as if I were crazy.
Over the years, she had revealed parts of her life that all boiled down to her being a very uptight, nervous person. I realized one day that I could not recall ever having seen her just kick-back and relax. She doesn’t share her life with me – she reports it. The notion of just doing nothing over a weekend is beyond her. She has a container filled with brochures of events going on around town and she uses it.
After she completed the course, she set out, with evangelical fervor, to tell me how I should meditate, implying that what I considered meditation simply was wrong. That I wasn’t “doing it right.” I listened to her and learned how she had been taught breathing exercises, stretches, techniques to reach other levels of meditation, etc. It all sounded wonderful. I respected what she was telling me and I was happy that she had discovered meditation and made it a part of her life.
But as the conversation continued, I shared with her some of my own meditative techniques. The fact is, the notion of sitting in a room with others for meditation is a distraction to me. The fact is, when I follow someone else’s techniques, it’s a distraction to see if I’m still on course. The fact is, some of the recommended meditation positions make my hips and legs cramp up. Like I had told her, “my meditation is sufficient.”
“Like what?” she challenged me.
When I take a hike and come over a rise and suddenly am able to view a fresh vista, I breathe in a full breath, hold it, and then release it. I don’t need instructions for this; it is simply my reaction to the beauty of the mountains that I love. When I come home and the dog is waiting for me at the top of the stairs, I scoop her up, hug her and hold her close. I can feel a physical sensation of calm enter me. At these and so many other moments throughout my day, I am meditating.
That is, I am thinking of nothing else other than my present being.
She said, “That’s not meditating, that’s just relaxing for a moment.” She wanted me to sit in a particular position, listen to particular music and go through a particular process to reach different levels of meditation.
And, I loved her for wanting me to experience something that had brought her to a new place of peace in her life. What she didn’t understand or respect, however, was that my life’s journey had allowed me simpler moments of meditation that I have learned to seek and embrace.
She seemed more satisfied when I told her of my nightly ritual. Every night I fill the tub with the hottest water I can stand and slide into it. Starting with my toes and easing the rest of my body into the warmth of the water, I am suddenly aware of every cell of my body as it enters the bath, inch by inch. The lights are either off and I light a candle, or I have a very dim light burning. I stretch out, by body submerged and I breath deeply, focus on relaxing my body and I allow my mind to simply rest. I focus on the nothingness this experience provides me and I allow it to ground me. I never know what it is that signals me (one night I will have meditated for five minutes, another it will be thirty) and I rise out of the water, dry myself, slip into warm pajamas and slide into bed. More often than not, I find that I can’t recall pulling the covers over me – I’ve rested peacefully all night. I believe that taking the time to rest my mind and body each evening allows my soul to also be at rest, and that allows me to enjoy a meditative state naturally.
The look on her face showed her skepticism. Maybe she’s right; maybe what I consider to be meditation is just a form of relaxation. Regardless, stopping your day to give whatever form of meditation you choose a chance is well worth trying.
If meditation is about “being” – then how can you “be” incorrectly?
Better and Better,
Laura Silva Quesada
and the Team