Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Developing a Meditative Practice

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and enjoying what is happening around you. 
Meditation is the practice of being present and enjoying what is happening within you.

At various times in my life I've tried to develop a meditative practice. Most have been met with limited success. I actually can sit still for a period of time, but my problem is finding a place where I can sit uninterrupted. I am continually surrounded by people.

At work the phone rings, people email or stop by to ask questions and there are meetings to attend. At home there is homework, lunches, rides to events, laundry and a dog that wants attention. I have tried body scan meditations, eating mindfully, guided meditations, walking meditations and gong meditations. I've discovered I can only do abbreviated versions of any type of meditation.

The only body scan meditation I have time for is for me to ask myself, "Where are your shoulders?" I will immediately drop my shoulders and take a deep breath. I have no time for eating mindfully. If I can take one bite of a chicken nugget in the car on my way to getting the girls to their next activity, I'm doing well.

Guided meditations distract me. I don't want to be listening. I find myself arguing with whatever the message is. If I'm to be at the beach, I think about how I prefer a stream. If I'm to watch a flame slowly flow down my spine, I think about how, once I lay down, the flame is burning up my sternum.

I love walking - with a purpose. I will drop off overdue library books, walk to the farmer's market, buy a coffee, etc. I am not good at walking just to walk, and I certainly don't like to walk to get in a certain number of steps on some type of tracking device. I love being outside in nature. I hate the mall. So even walking meditations are complicated for me.

I have found two forms of meditation that I absolutely love. I love a gong meditation and I love walking a labyrinth. Gong meditations are great, but I cannot partake in them daily. I have to track one down and they are cost-prohibitive.

A labyrinth is a perfect form of meditation for me. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. It is free, doesn't take a lot of time, oftentimes I can walk it alone, and it can be done daily, if I can just get to one. Earlier this spring I was driving to a local labyrinth before I went to the Morton Arboretum for a long walk. I got pulled over for speeding. When the officer asked me where I was going so quickly (at 6:10 on a Saturday morning, with no one else on the road), I said in a frustrated manner, "I'm trying to create a meditative practice!" I, clearly, need one.

This weekend, I started building one in my yard.

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