This is a short ode to meditation. If you already have a meditation practice, does this resonate with you? And if you don’t, is it something you might want to try?
Bat your lashes, take a deep breath and count to three. There is magic right in front of you. Jewels hidden in plain view. I swear it by the moon. All you have to do is look and listen, beyond the thin veneer of habituality. There is always something new to discover, something unseen. Like being tourists in our own minds and habitats. Or like children.
This winter I am living on my sailboat far north in the world, north of the Arctic Circle. To most people that sounds incredibly exotic. And it sure is. But this is my everyday life too, remember? It is no weekend vacation. The winter here is dark. No sun for a long, long time. And there are storms. Lots and lots of storms. It is absolutely possible to get used to this reality, and not in the «I could get used to that» sense of something comfortable or fun we want more of in our lives. Just used to, as in « this is my day-to-day life, and I’m used to it» sense. What does that really tell me? Several things, actually. For one, it tells me we can endure more than we think, when it comes to discomfort. But it also tells me we can end up «enduring» and tuning out the good stuff, if we forget how to look for it. Even up here, where it is stunningly beautiful, the eyes can go blind. Up here, where nature sings one day and growls the next. Ouch.
Paradoxically I think the dark makes it easier to see. I hibernate a bit during the darkest winter and let my eyes rest in velvety darkness. That’s ok. But not for too long. It’s an opportunity to really wake up. And if it wasn’t for the dark, we wouldn’t see the stars, of course. Or the aurora borealis. None of this magic is visible if we get stuck in front of a screen. I need to go outside, even if it’s overcast, even just to smell the sea. And I need to go inside, to really open my eyes and see. There is so much beauty on the inside, even when the world is dark. Even when there is suffering. Even when the mind chatters like mad hatters at a tea party.
So, yes, another ode to meditation. I can dig it. And may I humbly suggest that if you can’t really seem to take the time for the kind of meditative practice you think you should have, if feel like you are stuck in a rut, or that your city street looks dull, or you’ve forgotten the smell in your apartment, you simply sit down and get quiet just for a moment every day? Just noticing whatever is there to be noticed, whatever is there to be felt. Like an internal shower, where you wash the layer of grey dust off your senses. Then, perhaps, you can see, really see the clouds during your morning commute. Or smell the frost. The splendour in the grass, the glory in the flower. All that jazz. Maybe you have your own way of coming to your senses. Maybe it involves cabins in the wood or travels to faraway lands. Yes, please, both! May I suggest sitting a bit, anyway, just quietly? A fresh perspective is only a few breaths away. And there is more. So much more.
How to begin? Sit in a way that feels good and focus on your breath, just feeling the flow of air. A minute or five will do, just to start out.
If you need more guidance, I just might cook something up in the near future – involving adventures both inside and outside. Do let me know what you want! And there are plenty of meditation apps out there. Like Insight Timer, with lots of free guided meditations and sound tracks (I love sound baths)! Or, if you want snazzy design and step-by-step programmes, try Headspace or Calm. Calm even has bedtime stories, including nature essays by John Muir. Lots of love right there.
Now, bat your lashes, close your eyes, take a deep breath and count to three. And again. And again.