Some days are more scattered than others despite my ever so hopeful intentions. Today has turned out to be one such day. Thoughts cluttering my mind like the books, papers and ‘stuff’ that are piled on every surface in my kitchen. My son and I work opposite each other at the old pine table while Cliff, my way too frequent appliance repair guy works on fixing my stove and oven. His sighs and mumbles join the energetic anarchy bouncing around the room.
I am unable to settle down or settle in. Settle in to settle down. I’ve been writing for two hours and I have one paragraph before me. My thoughts are like scatter spray and my mind follows the trail of each one with equal importance, leaving behind all too easily the thesis I mean to follow. Uncorralled divergent thinking.
My body happily follows my hop-scotching mind. My fingers checking Facebook, email, NYTimes, I jump up to make a pot of tea and get side-tracked into unloading the dishwasher, into taking the bacteria laden dish cloth to the laundry room and putting on a load of laundry before sitting back down in front of my lap top. I’ve put the kettle on three times and am still without a pot of tea.
My morning meditation was a rushing river of thoughts. A reminder of why we call it a practice. I sit in my daughter’s cast-off leopard print chair, a tiger-striped pillow at the small of my back helping me to sit upright with comfort, and my moss green resort blanket on my lap and bunched under each knee. I am of the mind that it’s better to meditate in comfort than not to meditate at all. I light a stick of Sage incense, set my BB alarm for just over ½ hour, turn it to silent, cup my left hand into my right on my lap, close my eyes and begin with a cleansing breath.
I practice Primordial Sound meditation, so I have a mantra upon which I focus my awareness. Over and over and over, because my awareness is a bouncing rubber ball playing jacks with my thoughts. It’s amazing how many gossamer layers of diversions I can maintain in my mind! I am, at once, daydreaming about an upcoming episode of House, running through my grocery list, witnessing my distractability – all the while my mantra is running still silently at the bottom of the river bed.
The muscles around my eyes are tight. I bring my awareness again and again to the tension and release it with an out breath. Then keep my attention on my breath. If I’m having difficulty slowing the parade of thoughts while meditating I usually find that focusing on my breath for a minute or two allows my inner Self to gain a foothold. Not so in this morning’s practice. My breath brings to mind the opening stanza of a nursery rhyme:
The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.
Clogged sinuses and the North wind doth blow inside my head! So my morning meditation practice went until the alarm quietly chimed 35 minutes later. It was a practice full of restless energy and near the end even my body joined my frenetic, kinetic mind. My usually upright seating position has degraded to a teenager’s insolent slump, my half lotus legs uncurled to rest on the floor.
But it is a practice with no goal of perfection and my job is simply to be present in body and invite my Spirit to my practice. To help soothe and settle my restless mind I open my Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer and am drawn to the 15th Verse.
The ancient masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it.
Once can only describe them vaguely
By their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream,
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Simple as uncarved wood.
Hollow like caves.
Yielding, like ice about to melt.
Amorphous, like muddy water.
But the muddiest water clears
As it is stilled.
And out of that stillness
He who keeps the Tao does not want to be full.
But precisely because he is never full,
He can remain like a hidden sprout
And does not rush to early ripening.
By evening the muddy water is clearing and I can feel the stillness that is always present in me rising. Even when that place of stillness is buried deep beneath the sediment of clutter and chaos I know it is still there. That knowing is enough.