I went to my first meditation class this past October. A new yoga studio focused on balance and wellness had recently opened in my community. It seemed fateful.
The class is an introduction to breathing and meditation and each week we try different things, feeling our way through what works for us individually and what feels less responsive. Ultimately the goal is to step away from the pace of life, and focus on a mindfulness that is healing and quieting.
Before long, this Wednesday evening class became a stabilizing force. By mid-week I can feel my anxiety building, my heart pulled in a variety of directions and steeped in the responsibility of motherhood and career. I struggle to focus. This hour to check in on my inner well being helps me find my centre, clear my mind and fuel the rest of my week. It’s the primary reason I chose meditation as my first theme for 2011. In the short time since initiating my practice it has become an important anchor that I’d like to infuse more consistently throughout my whole life.
Before Christmas I read Buddhism for Mothers: A calm approach to caring for yourself and your children. It was prescribed to me by my therapist, and once started I was quickly hooked. Sarah Napthali, mother of two boys, strives to apply Buddhist teaching in her daily life. Her book, the first in a series for mothers, provides a map for nurturing self, while coping with the day-to-day challenges of motherhood. She provides an introduction to parenting through spirituality and meditative practice in a most accessible and engaging way.
Mindfulness—which we practice in meditation—provides us with energy to fulfil our daily tasks, calm to deal with negative emotions and insights which help us learn and grow spiritually…Meditation is a time to become familiar with more positive mind states, to immerse ourselves in them and to experience for ourselves a taste of clarity, calmness and kindness.
Indeed, I have felt this profound sense of clarity. Perhaps because it so new to me, the sensation after an hour of meditation feels crisp and invigorating. I’m not sure why or even if I’m even doing it right. But I don’t believe that matters, because I know how I feel in that moment, and I feel it throughout my self, body and mind. Often when I reach that space, a place that feels as though I’m just outside myself, floating and profoundly calm, I feel pure joy. And the beauty is, it’s for the sake of joy itself.
In Women Food and God Geneen Roth writes:
“…to paying attention to the deeper song, the deeper truth; you without your story of you. You as you experience yourself directly, here now. When you sit down, when you listen, when you sense your body directly, there is what Eckhart Tolle calls ‘animating presence.'”
When I’m in that room everything else seems to stop. I feel suspended in time, surrounded by peace and tranquility and free of any nagging negative emotion. The time spent sitting with a quiet mind instills a sense of balance and spaciousness that allows me to accept my life and provides energy to tackle it.
This joy, it’s fleeting and hard to hold on to. As soon as I acknowledge it, think about it, it retreats and leaves me craving more. So this month I resolve to meditate twice a week outside of this class. It’s the first step to creating routine, to making it a firm part of my life. As I do, I’ll write more about the importance of meditation, what it can do and how it’s working for me.
Image: ‘mudra‘ via a Creative Commons license