I am often reminded that while meditation is a practice, unlike many others, it is one of essentially doing nothing. In a fundamental way, it is the quality and experience of Being.
In the early days of exploration, I often felt that there were certain requirements that needed to be met for my practice to be considered a “good” meditation. The environment needed to be quiet. This meant that if my husband started grinding his coffee in the middle of my practice, it was no longer meditation. If my girls woke up and the chatter filtered into my space, again this was not meditation. In addition, I also thought that my mind needed to be more clear and settled, my heart open. The initial years of practice allowed me to see all the varied nature of requirements I had imposed upon myself, that were often not being met.
Then one morning, with the harsh grinding of the coffee maker and the sweet laughter of my girls, I was about to get up from my cushion in frustration when I realized that this was in fact the exact moment that I could practice. I could practice Being. I didn’t need to get up and I didn’t need to ask for quiet. Being meant that I could explore including and befriending the moment exactly as it was. As I sunk back into my cushion, I experienced a depth of calm that had no requirement of my situation. It was incredibly freeing. I realized meditation was in fact an exquisite experience of freedom. There were no expectations to adhere to, simply the opportunity to return to that ineffable essence of Being Presence. The mind could be full, life bubbling with stimulus and Presence still available.
So the next time you sit, remember nothing needs to change. You can arrive exactly as you are. Your environment and the world can remain exactly as it is. This moment is the perfect opportunity to realize the quiet peacefulness of Being. To many this can feel scary or uncomfortable, especially when a life circumstance is difficult or painful. It will even feel counterintuitive to let things be for a time. However, don’t mistake Being to mean that we passively resign to things as they are. In fact, this is the birthplace of a wisdom so deep and unconditioned that we may later find ourselves moving and creating in the world with a sense of alignment, clarity and purpose.
It can feel similar to being immersed in the ocean, waters turbulent, at times calm. There may be periods of life where we are struggling against the currents, wishing that life was different. At some point, we grow weary of the struggle, left with no choice but to let go and let be. It almost feels like leaning back for a time and allowing the waves to carry us. In the meantime something settles. An abiding calm begins to surface. It is from this place that something magical can arise. There may be a point when the waves once again grow strong and full, directed and alive. Simultaneously, something within begins to feel so right that it cannot be denied. From the calm, an inner strength, a clarity of effort and purpose combines with the vitality of the currents already flowing. We find that we are swimming in the direction the universe has been pointing us toward, at least for some time.
This human experience is one of finding our way and at times losing it, remembering who we are and then forgetting. It is as beautiful as it can be heart wrenching. For all of this, I am grateful.
p.s. If you would like a guided practice of Simply Being, you might try this meditation I shared a few weeks ago.