The meditation teacher had us all sitting on the floor, some on cushions and some not, whatever made you comfortable. She used a singing bowl to begin and end each session. As she began to make the bowl sing, the sound was more soothing than expected. We all had our eyes closed and began to notice our breath. Where did we feel it, how deep could we breathe, feeling it in our bellies, our lungs, our nostrils. As she guided us through this deep breathing beginning, I thought, “I can do this, mediation seems easy.” Within moments I was no longer really hearing her guidance, my eyes were open and I was looking around the room at the strangers. My brain wouldn’t stop no matter what her guidance told me to focus on. I started wondering if there was anyone there I may want to have dinner with that evening, as I was at this amazing place in Tucson alone. I couldn’t help but think about the work I had left behind, the parents I needed to call, the brother whose birthday I was missing, and so on. My mind never stopped. When the meditation was done I walked over to the teacher to ask her, “how do you stop your brain from thinking through this meditation, I couldn’t do it?” Mary Grace laughed. “Your brain has a job and it is to think. You don’t stop it from thinking during meditation, you focus it. Each time your brain begins to go down a path away from the meditation, about work, family, to do lists, you bring it back with main thought or mantra.” I laughed, as an extravert, it is so hard to think that I could do that and it would be relaxing. She suggested that I try a walking meditation using the labyrinth on site, that perhaps by keeping my body moving I would be able to focus my mind.
The first time I tried the labyrinth, I was completely unfocused. There were other people there so that just added to my general nosiness. I was watching, listening and not focusing on me. The second time was at 6am when nobody else was there. With the labyrinth, you walk in with an intention or question and focus on it as you walk. By the time you get to the center you should have clarity around the issue, or at least some. I found when I got to the center, that I had used a rock to write 3 names in the dirt, 3 people I had to deal with my emotions with, not so much with them but about them. I gained clarity that one I needed to let go and the other two I needed to speak with about how I was feeling. It was very powerful for me.
That was 16 years ago! Since then I have been able to meditate, especially being guided, and do so one to two times per day. I also have realized that I don’t have to be guided and sitting on a cushion or floor to really meditate. The art of meditation, of gaining space in my brain and heart to hear the messages more clearly, to truly relax and gain clarity happens in a lot of ways for me. The most recent meditative state of peace and clarity came walking Charlie.
Each day, Charlie and I take a long walk near my home. As we walk up our block, there is usually activity. People are outside, kids who love to play with him, cars to move away from, other dogs barking from their yards or living room windows. A lot of stimuli for us both! Once we round the bend and hit the unpaved road that roams behind the block, it becomes quite silent. There are only a few homes on the road and during the week, most people are at work. As we meander around the water filled potholes, Charlie smells everything in site as there are many deer and other wildlife who roam these streets. The silence is captivating. You can hear a woodpecker off in the distance diligently pecking away on a tree. As the breeze comes through the bamboo on the side of the road, it sounds like wind chimes, a beautiful rhythm and sound. My mind begins to focus on the bamboo and the sound of the wind. I immediately think of the sentence, “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.” As I walk, I can feel the peacefulness, and can begin to clarity on what answer may be blowing in the wind. I begin to hear and know words that focus me on a decision I have been trying to make. A very emotional one around letting go of person, of an attachment, of expectations I once had that no longer seem real. Letting go of what I thought something was and was going to be and realizing what it is. I recognized that my behavior was not letting go but saying I was letting go only to reach out again hoping that they would want to reconnect, and not allow me to let go. I was hearing that I was still trying to control the situation instead of letting it move where it needed to move, allowing for more time and space for what I truly desire and am worthy of having.
As Charlie and I began to walk back I realized that this walk helped me to gain some needed clarity and focus. It was the meditation I needed. I also realized that there really are answers in the wind, if you allow yourself to be taken away by them and let go of what you think it should be.
Meditation can be any way you can find the time and space to focus on an intention and allow yourself to clear the path for your highest good. It can be riding a bike, walking in nature, sitting at the beach, or walking your dog. It doesn’t have to be with all the candles and cushions and singing bowls. It can be however you need it to be to listen, the answer is blowing in the wind.