I heard myself say recently, that July is my favorite month of the year. It is true. It is the height of summer and I love the warmth and carefree-ness of summer. The long days keep me going with many activities that feed me, like gardening, hiking, biking and swimming. And now it is August 3rd. Do you know that the sun on August 3rd is at the same place as it is on May 9th? Each day we lose a bit more of light. It’s a good time of year for me to stay present and notice when I am pulled to that melancholic place in me that has a hard time letting go of the summer season and all of the “light” that goes along with it. When I practice coming back to what is; breath and my sense perceptions, I am more present to the moment. I hear the morning bird’s song or squawk, I see the pink in the sky of the rising sun, I feel my body and the pulsing of my breath and I appreciate the present moment. When I focus on loss and fear, I miss all of that. So, I practice coming back again and again. I do this formally “on the cushion”, in my meditation practice as that keeps it alive in me, so I can better access the practice throughout my day.
What does that mean? Looking at ourselves from the inside out? Meditation is a process in getting to know ourselves, but we have to first quiet our chattering minds to be able to listen into a deeper part of ourselves. In mindfulness meditation, we observe our thoughts, with a sense of curiosity and non-judgment, and we take a break from chasing after them or attaching to them. In this practice of observation, we get to know ourselves from the inside out. We are typically better versed at knowing ourselves on the outside in. Our “outside-selves” are all about what we do, who we are in the world and how we are valued to others. But in meditation, that can all fall away, and we get to know our “inside-selves”, who we inherently are. There is a resting place in getting to know this part of ourselves and the only way I know to get a hint of that resting place is through meditation. That is why I offer the day-long or weekend mindfulness retreats. To spend retreat time practicing quieting our active minds, is for me, the most essential offering. Check out the Meditation Offerings page for upcoming retreats.
Join me on May 18th for a day-long Mindfulness Retreat at the Whidbey Institute’s Story House. Assuming our beautiful spring time weather will continue, we will have ample opportunity to take some of our meditation practice outdoors. In brief, the day will consist of formal sitting meditation instruction and practice, sharing and discussion, outdoor walking meditation, a vegetarian lunch and a guided meditation and time for reflection through drawing or writing or reading. There are a few spots left, so do let me know if you’re interested. Send me an email @ [email protected] or leave a comment below.
If you would like to experience a longer retreat experience, consider coming to the day long retreat at the Whidbey Institute’s Story House on May 18th from 9:00am- 5:00pm. This will be the third day-long retreat that I have offered in 2019. The days are a combination of longer formal meditation sessions and walking meditation on the beautiful trails of the Whidbey Institute. A healthful vegetarian lunch is provided and there is time for personal reflection, be it writing, reading or artistic expression. For more information, leave a comment or send me an email ([email protected]).
Why meditate anyway? Meditation gives us an opportunity to look at our minds with a sense of curiosity. As a culture we have a lot of ways to be distracted. Many people have said to me, “I can’t meditate because I can’t sit still.” The impulse to not sit still in body and mind, is true for most people in this culture. In meditation we train our bodies to sit in a particular, but comfortable posture, and we train our minds to let go and relax. It is natural for our minds to keep moving and in meditation we don’t stop that movement, but we take a curious investigation of it. And, I don’t mean we sit there and curiously investigate our minds while we meditate. What I mean is that we observe the movement of our minds and rather than follow after the thoughts, while we are meditating, we leave the thoughts alone and come back to our focal point, which in this case, is the breath. The curiosity is the light touch that we give to our thoughts, like we could think “wow, that’s interesting I am having a hard time letting go of that conversation I had last night”, but while we are meditating, rather than getting lost in the mire of the conversation we had last night, we simply come back to the breath and leave the dissecting of the conversation alone. We can dissect the conversation after meditation, but hopefully meditation can teach us that maybe the dissection process isn’t that necessary. If we continue to come back to our breath as we notice our distracted mind, then we are teaching ourselves to be more present. If we can be more present, and less distracted, we can be more awake and aware of our world and all of its offerings.
Consider coming to a daylong retreat on May 18th and we will can explore meditation together!
A MOMENT I know the life of the one rushing, just enough time to make the bus, just enough time to get to work, checking messages, leaving messages along the way… But not today. Today I am happy to have the delay. It gives me a moment to feel the sun coming through the roof, to hear the annoying buzzing of the lights, to see the comings and goings of many others, to feel the subtle growl of my stomach and most of all, it gives me a moment to find and feel my breath. Rather than rushing back into what was, and what will be, it gives me a chance to be here now. I sometimes lose sight of my breath in the muck and madness of the day to day. When I look into the brilliance of the vast blue sky, there is so much clarity. Like the clouds that block that clarity, sometimes the mire and muck and the mundane get in the way of what is so brilliant, clear and usually much more simple than I make it out to be.