I am a beginning meditation student.  In my mind, I will always be a beginning meditation student.  Having toyed with the idea of meditation for more than five years, actually since my first Natalie Goldberg writing workshop, I find incorporating meditation into my daily life sometimes challenging.

Last month, as I sat at Shambhala Mountain Center at the Shambhala Training Level I: The Art of Being Human meditation retreat, I listened to various questions posed by the 60+ participants.  One question asked was “why should we meditate”?  Deborah Bright, who provided the talks for the weekend, answered “to get our mind and body in the same place, at the same time”. 

I was and am fascinated by the simplicity of the answer.  Yet, it is one of the most difficult things for me to do, to get my brain and body to be in the same place at the same time.  During the weekend retreat, the thing I noticed was a shift. My monkey mind moving from past/future thoughts to being in the moment, in the room we meditated in.  I went from thinking about conversations at home before I left and what I’ll do when I get home to( finally) noticing the sounds in the room, the temperature in the room and occasionally, just occasionally, my breathing. That was my progress for the weekend.  It hasn’t happened again since I got home.  My mind is everywhere and my meditation time flies by and I find I’ve figured out how to cover my sofas, organize the bathroom, where to move the pictures and what to donate to ARC.  Every now and then, I remember the breathing part.

I think that’s why it’s called a meditation practice.  Each day, I “practice” getting my brain and body to join forces, in the same place, at the same time, for even just one moment.

1 thought on “Beginner

  1. Nat

    Getting the brain and body together is why I love skiing and snowboarding. In fact, last night I saw an episode of the Sundance channel show “Iconoclasts” which featured Eddie Vedder and Laird Hamilton, the surfer. It turns out that Vedder is also a surfer who grew up on Hawaii, and he talked on camera about how with surfing, especially big waves, you have to focus just on the wave so that you don’t get killed. Hamilton, who discovered the concept of surfing huge ocean waves by being towed into them on a jetski, talked about how he will listen to new albums until he finds one song that will be his surfing song for the season. When this song is utterly familiar to him, he finds that he can recall the song while surfing, and the focus on song and wave slows down his perception of time.

    I had never heard anything like this before, but it made perfect sense. One of the questions I had was what happens when you can slow down time. For Hamilton, the answer is that you can enjoy every wave more.

    Hamilton noted that “except for annoying interruptions like eating and sleeping, we could stay out on the ocean all the time.” How extraordinary to love one thing so much and to feel at home in the middle of doing it again and again. It doesn’t seem quite like a “practice,” since it seems too fun. But how great for practicing anything to be so fun.

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