“Make your path about proving this truth, and you will discover what wholeness really is.” I of the Storm by Gary Simmons
The past two, three months have been chaotic. Chaotic is too kind a word, but it’s somewhat fitting. My first grad school class, a condensed, 5-hour a day class, two days a week in addition to travel time and working. The drop that came afterward. The house break-in, the phone crises (multiples, multiples), and panic. Vast amounts of panic.
A year or so ago, I’d read Eat, Pray, Love, and was rather unimpressed by it. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us could travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia to recover from a marriage which, by Gilbert’s own portrayal, was a product of her own settling.
I picked it up a month or so ago, suffered through her eating in Italy, and managed to find some seeds in her praying in India. I opened the book to her first description of meditation, and realized why I disliked her so intensely: she had my brain. In the movie, there’s a scene where she sat down to meditate, her thoughts all over the place, ending with her imagining decorating her meditation room that she’d have once she returned home. She looked at the clock, and it had been less than a single minute.
I could appreciate that.
A friend asked me to go to a meditation three weeks ago, and I did. Strange how circles come round again, and I found myself in the exact same pattern of service that I had been to many months ago: a sitting meditation, a lying one, and a walking one, guided by a Vietnamese monk whose broken English is somehow stunningly beautiful. When he sang, I realized it was the same monk, no longer at the Temple, that I had met previously.
I think I really started paying attention then.
That day, a little drunk on bliss, Jen and I breakfasted, did a little shopping, and unbeknownst to me, while we were having some much needed girlie time, someone was rifling through my stuff and making a getaway with my Harley fund and all of my undergrad research that just so happened to be on two separate laptops.
Words cannot describe the fear I felt after, being in the house. Not being in the house. Discovering that security alarm salesmen could be just as scummy as common thieves. Moreso, perhaps.
But an interesting thing happened over the course of the past few weeks: I kept attending meditation, I began practicing at home, and I realized why I hadn’t been in the first place.
“I can’t meditate!” I’d say, “My mind won’t shut off!”
I’d heard that praying is talking to God while meditating is listening to Him.
When looked at from that perspective, that explains a lot.
My brain still won’t shut off, although it is noticeably calmer. *I* am noticeably calmer.
As I’ve been practicing, I’ve been reminded of things I held true and somehow forgot along the way. I am not my thoughts. I am not my faults. I’m not my fucking khakis.
And suddenly, life is bright again, brighter than before, I think, since it had been dulled by habit and a draining away of my joie de vivre that had me mired in patterns, tangled in distraction, and dull, dull, dull.
I’m attempting to have no agenda with meditation (attempting being the key word–I know it leads to clarity of mind, but I’m trying not to make that a “goal”), but rather simply trying to observe what happens in my life when I practice it continuously.
And I get the paradox: It is absolutely nothing, and yet it is everything. You need no belief in God or Buddha to sit in silence. You need no belief in anything, other than an inkling that silence may, quite possibly, might be, or could just prove, to be good for you.
If it took three months of chaos (and who’s kidding, I’ve had about 36 years of it, give or take a month here and there) to get here, then truly, no one and nothing is against me.
And right here is a mighty fabulous place to be.