Tag Archive for: meditation

Yup, it’s that time of year again. Did I buy enough cards? Do I have current addresses for everyone? Can I get enough holiday theme stamps?

I don’t really remember when I started writing Christmas cards, but I think it was my first year in college.  I was fresh off of high school graduation, having addressed envelopes to each of my aunts and uncles and grandparents stuffed with graduation announcements and once again with thank-you notes for the cash gifts they sent.  I’m pretty sure I felt like it would be a nice (and terribly grown-up) thing to do if I sent them all holiday greetings as well, now that I was ‘on my own.’

Over the years, I have continued to send cards to friends and family, deviating once or twice to experiment with a holiday letter typed up on my computer or a photo collage of Bubba and I with the kids. Each time, though, I took the opportunity to at least sign my name by hand and address each envelope by hand.  I’m not sure why. I don’t judge others who send computer printed envelopes or holiday newsletters – I’m thrilled to get the mail and hang the cards up in the house to make it more festive.

It was a week ago that I found myself in a book store and suddenly realized I had yet to purchase this year’s cards. I wasn’t my usually picky self, given that I only had a few minutes before picking Eve up down the street, but I still made certain to get a few different boxes of cards. I like hand-choosing which family or friend gets which message (for example, I always try not to send my cousins who are siblings the same card in case they ever compare notes), so having an assortment of cards is absolutely necessary.  Yes, that’s a little over the top. No, I don’t care. It’s me. That’s the way I roll.

This morning when I sat down to begin writing the cards, I felt a momentary sense of drudgery and chalked it up to being so long out of my routine of writing and walking and reading. I wondered what would happen if I turned this task into a meditation. It turns out that was precisely what I needed today.

With each turn of the page in my address book, I took a moment to think about the next person or family I was sending holiday wishes to. I carefully chose which card they would receive, pictured them in my mind, and felt the pen flowing across the slick surface of the page.  More often than not, a memory popped into my head about a time spent with them or something they once said, and by the time I had written the address across the front of the envelope and sealed it, I was filled with gratitude for their place in my life.

I made it through the “Es.” My maiden name started with E, so there are some pretty special people in that section of the address book, from my big brother to my Dad’s widow to my paternal grandfather. A couple of those envelopes aren’t sealed yet since I have to slip Eve and Lola’s school photos inside, and I took a minute to wonder what happens when these snapshots fall out of the card as they are opened. Do they instantly get compared to last year’s? Are there exclamations of delight or amazement at how much the girls have grown? Is there a desire to reach out and connect soon? I don’t know.  What I learned from this morning, though, is that this ritual is a warm, grounding one for me. A reminder, as I sit quietly and write out a short sentiment, of just how important each of these people is in my life; a touchstone of connection, of shared history, for which I am grateful. I will never again begrudge the time I spend engaging in this special, simple practice of reaching out to those I love. Thank goodness my sense of duty twenty-some years ago called me to start sending holiday greetings. Thank goodness I stuck with it. Thank goodness it’s that time of year again.

Time is my friend, and my children’s friend.   The other night when I came up to tell Lola goodnight I was in a hurry. Bubba had been traveling a lot lately and we had some catching up to do on our couch-snuggling, Breaking Bad routine.  He was waiting downstairs and I was hoping for a smooch on Lola’s forehead, a tug of the covers to snug her in and a quick exit. She asked me to give her a meditation. I whined.

Dude, it’s late. You should have thought of that before you goofed off for 15 minutes instead of brushing your teeth and getting your pajamas on.
I want to go down and hang out with Dad. He’s waiting. 
You know that if you want a meditation, you have to be in bed before 9….

Saturday night when I made the trek to Eve’s room to tell her goodnight she stuck out her tongue for me. She has been fighting a chest cold for nearly two weeks now, no fever but congestion and a wet cough that she swears doesn’t hurt. “It’s just annoying.”  She has been sidelined from her cross-country team and is anxious to feel better, so every night I plug in the humidifier and all day long I pump her full of homeopathic remedies and probiotics and hot tea.  But now something is going on with her tongue.

It’s thrush, I tell her.
An overgrowth of yeast. Your immune system is wiped out from this virus and it can’t compete with the yeast.

She panicked. Ran to her laptop while I set up the humidifier for the night and shooed the cat out of her bathroom and looked up thrush online. She immediately jumped to the part where it talks about spreading to your esophagus in some cases, requiring an endoscopy or x-ray to diagnose. Eve has health-anxiety that I suppose relates to how sick Bubba was when she was little – always in the hospital for something or other – and she nearly always jumps into the deep end of worst-case scenario when she doesn’t feel well.

“What if I have to go to the hospital? I don’t want a tube down my throat! I can’t miss a ton of school and this is horrible!”

I rolled my eyes.

Seriously? You will be fine. I’ll do some research tonight and figure out how to handle it. We’ll tackle it tomorrow. You’re not going to need an endoscopy. Good night.

In both instances I felt guilty within five minutes.
In both instances the issue was my own inability to distance myself from the discomfort of my children.

I felt Lola’s stress acutely that night when she asked for a meditation and it was hard for me to be with her and hold space for it right then.   I was feeling my own stress and, ironically, the meditation would have done wonders for both of us, but I reverted back to the “suck it up” school of parenting I know so well (it having been modeled by my own parents) and walked out.

Eve’s anxiety ratcheted up my own on Saturday. Not that I truly believed she was seriously ill, but to see my usually-confident and capable daughter so worried threw me off.  I used the sarcasm my father was so famous for to make her feel small and shut her up.

In both cases, the next morning brought clarity.

When Lola asks me to be present with her, to help her ground herself, the best thing I can do is reinforce that. Instead of shaming her for seeking help or telling her to do it alone, I need to embrace the opportunity to teach her that this is a powerful thing to do for herself. Never again will I dismiss her request for a meditation before bedtime.

When Eve reacts so powerfully to something I say, I need to acknowledge her feelings instead of making fun of them.  I ought to have said, “I know you’re worried right now and I understand that. Is there anything I can do to help ease your fears?”

I am so sorry that I treated my girls like this and I know I’ve done it many times before.  I can only hope that from now on, I take a moment to remember what that night of sleep brought to me in terms of understanding how to support my children when they are asking for help, even if it doesn’t seem like a convenient time for me.

Anyone who knew me during the first 35 years of my life would probably describe me as “Type A.” A perfectionist, in love with control and order and predictability.  Far from being disturbed by that sort of characterization, I embraced it fully. I was in love with the concept of controlling my own destiny and often (quietly) railed against those who might stand in my way as I traveled down the neat and tidy path of my life as I envisioned it.

On the other hand, folks who have met me in the past few years might not agree.  I like to think that I have seen the error of my ways, addressed the driving forces behind my drastic need to control the parameters of my life and the lives of my children, and become much more accepting of the world and my place in it.  I am capable of letting go of worries about how others might see me and not nearly so frantic about working, working, working to prove my worth and avoiding all potential difficulties.

That said, I still have a bit of a mental struggle between “being” and “doing.” I have a meditation practice that has served me well over the past several years and often at the first sign of trouble, my instinct tells me to slow down and check in with my gut. To be still and quiet and breathe instead of mobilizing for action to mitigate damage.  And yet, often as I am working to ‘be,’ I carry ‘what to do’ in the back of my mind like a pebble in my shoe. It is not front and center, sharp enough to make me stop and shake it out, but it’s only a matter of time before I get annoyed and stop to examine it.  Even as I am simply experiencing the discomfort of a particular situation, working to not judge it and panic, I am acknowledging somewhere in my head that soon I will have to do something about this situation and this state of suspension is finite. Perhaps the most mundane, and certainly the most recent example of this in my life follows:

Last week I was suffering with shoulder and neck pain, popping Advil like black jellybeans on Easter Sunday, and wondering when I might find the time to go see my chiropractor. It was a particularly busy week for the girls, Bubba was in Europe on business, and I had a million projects to tackle, so my time was limited.  After two nights of migraines, I gave in and made an appointment for Sunday at noon, knowing that Eve had made plans with a girlfriend and I may have to cancel.  I put it to the back of my mind on Friday night with a little mental post-it that I had to cancel by Saturday at noon if I was going to.

Saturday morning, Eve’s friend still hadn’t called with the details of their plans. By Saturday afternoon, I had decided I would try to push the issue a little and let Eve know that I could either take her to her friend’s house early on Sunday or for a couple of hours after my appointment in the afternoon.  I was still unsure whether Lola would accompany me to the chiropractor or not, and I was a little uneasy as to how it would all turn out, but I resisted the impulse to actively problem-solve.

Within five minutes of Eve texting her friend an inquiry about details, our home phone rang and it was a friend of Lola’s, inviting her over to hang out for a few hours on Sunday. Within the next few minutes, Eve’s friend texted back saying earlier was better for her and we should bring her in the morning. Problem solved.

On Sunday, what I got was a fabulous chiropractor appointment with a skilled practitioner who made me feel almost instantly better and a quiet house for three hours while I worked on a writing project I haven’t been able to tackle yet this week.

But what I really got was the reminder that while sitting with uncertainty (no matter how small) does not necessarily translate to action, it often results in less action being needed.  If I had scrambled around trying to make arrangements for Lola or scheduling Eve’s time with her friend, I would have used up precious energy for no real reason. What ‘being’ did for me was allow time for some of the details in the Universe to shift and provide a clear path for all of us. Had I pre-emptively cancelled my appointment so as to avoid the cancellation fee, I would have ended up frustrated that both kids were away and my neck still hurt.

Over the years I have noted the positive affects of not-doing again and again (this, by the way, is much different than procrastination, although I often convince myself that it is not and justify my procrastination by saying that I was simply waiting for ‘things to work themselves out’). I am coming to trust in the partnership between being and doing, the yin and yang of them in relationship to each other, the notion that there is a time and a place for each and neither ought to be forced.  In my life, anyway, the more I can initially sit with a new situation and not succumb to that siren call to “Act now!” the less effort I end up expending to find a workable solution that feels right.  Beyond the weekly, mundane examples like the chiropractor appointment, there are many more monumental issues I have experienced in my life in which this principle is astoundingly applicable. Perhaps my new mantra ought to be, “When in doubt, do nothing for a little while. Just to see how things unfold.” You never know – I may not have to do anything at all, and that is certainly cause for celebration.

A river flows in front of me

Each intrusion of thought a leaf
falling atop the flow
Swept downstream.

Out of sight
Out of mind

There are no birds singing here
no deer in a clearing
no breeze rustling through trees.

There is no here here.
Only now.


Lola is comfortable in her own skin. Emotionally. By that, I mean to say that she is quirky, irreverent, and more than a little bit unique and she is perfectly okay with that. She has no desire to change the core of her personality to better fit anyone else’s idea of how she ought to dress or what she should find funny and she generally celebrates the ways in which she sees the world differently from most people.

She is occasionally terrifically uncomfortable in her own skin physically.  She struggles with sensory perceptions in ways that I can’t possibly understand but have learned to recognize. She hates the volume of sound in a movie theater. She is overwhelmed by the lights and sounds and smells and people offering her samples at Costco. She is very particular about the kinds of clothing she is willing to wear and can be a little obsessive about making things “even.”

Over the years she has taught herself ways to accommodate and/or avoid the things that drive her batty and in many cases she has challenged herself to endure some very uncomfortable situations in an effort to desensitize herself.  She has come a very long way in learning to tolerate things that were once unthinkable but a few sticking points remain.

She is terribly susceptible to motion sickness (but in one shining example of her courage and willingness to not let it diminish her experiences, she went on a three-day sailing trip with her class early in the school year and had a fabulous time despite some bouts with nausea).

She also struggles with transitions.  I have written about this before, especially with respect to the transition out of the school year and into the summer and vice versa.  We generally have a few days of teeth-grinding frustration before she can settle in to the new phase she has entered and it generally takes me by surprise despite the fact that it happens every year.

And so I ought to have considered that when Bubba and I decided to spring a surprise vacation on the girls for their mid-winter break.  We planned the week in Hawaii with glee, whispering and snickering together about the major secret we were keeping.  We orchestrated everything without them getting suspicious – arranging for the dog to be boarded and someone to housesit for us and yet another friend to hamster-sit – and the night before we were to leave we told them to pack their bags. We were heading to one of their favorite places for nine days and they had better dig out shorts and tanks and swimsuits.

They were ecstatic and so were we. We had managed to pull of an enormous coup!  What fun.

And it has been, but by Day 3, Lola was a little on edge. She had spent two full days jettisoning herself between the ocean and the pool, lying in the sunshine reading and going for walks on the beach with Eve. Bubba and I were enjoying our newfound freedom now that the girls were responsible enough to go off together for a few hours at a time and we were soaking up every lazy moment.

As is their ritual, Bubba and Eve woke before sunrise and headed out for a beach walk together.  Lola and I lazily made our way into our swimsuits and promised to join them shortly.  And that’s when it hit. First, Lola complained that her hair wouldn’t stay down and she was clearly agitated.  I rolled my eyes, dropped the beach bag and wet a washcloth thoroughly to plaster it down.

“As soon as it dries it’s going to stick up all over again!” she yelled.  I shushed her, worried that she had just woken up the neighbors.  She stomped her foot.

Then the strings on her bikini bottom made an “uncomfortable lump” underneath her shorts and she tugged and fussed and picked at it as enormous tears formed in her eyes.  I shifted from one foot to the next, shushing her again so she wouldn’t bug the neighbors.

“I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE NEIGHBORS!” she shouted and I found myself at a crossroads.  Mentally cataloguing the morning’s catastrophes, from itchy, sandy flip flops to hair disasters to sunburned shoulders to this, I realized what this was.  My friend Michelle’s words appeared in my head:

Where there is (bad) behavior, there is pain.

Oh, yeah. This had all the earmarks of a classic SPD meltdown.  Each of these petty things would normally not phase her. She wasn’t trying to be difficult. She was hurting.

I put down my bag again and joined her on the bed where she was face down, sobbing with spine-shaking gulps.

“I think that this might be what it looks like to be uncomfortable in your own skin. Do you think so?”  I kissed her on the top of her head.  She nodded emphatically.

“I-i-i don’t know what to dooooo,” she wailed pathetically and my heart broke open a little.  For the moment, I could completely forget about whether Eve and Bubba were getting impatient with us. I had to help her.

“I’m sorry we sprung this trip on you and I know you want to enjoy it.  I think that you are growing up a lot right now and maybe you’re a little too big to be in this skin anymore.  You think?”

I asked her whether she wanted to picture herself as a snail who had outgrown its shell or a snake who needed to shed its old skin.  She chose snail.  And I had her close her eyes and breathe deeply three times.

“Picture yourself as a snail.  Your shell can be any color you want and when you look next to you, you see a different, bigger shell.  Take a minute to create that bigger shell in your mind’s eye. What colors does it have? What is its shape? Is it smooth or spiky? Long and lean or tall and round?  Don’t tell me. Just picture it in your mind.  Now take a moment to feel what it feels like to be in your current, small shell.  It’s a little too tight and restrictive, isn’t it?  I want you to take a deep breath in and when you let that breath all the way out, your old shell is just going to pop right off your back and roll to the side.  When it does, I want you to look at it and silently thank it for protecting you all this time.  Be grateful for all it was for you and let it know that it was important, but that you don’t need it anymore.  Now, before you turn your attention to the new shell, I want you to focus on how great it feels to be out of the old one.  It’s a little scary because you’re pretty vulnerable, but you’re safe for now.  Just take some deep, deep breaths and stretch your self out into this new, open space with each exhale.  When you’re ready, slip into your new beautiful shell and feel the cool, smooth inside that was made just for you.  Take a moment to wiggle around in it and orient yourself.  Feel how it’s not too heavy for your back and it feels expansive and comfortable.  When you are ready, thank the new shell for being there and open your eyes.”

Lola sat up slowly and looked at me with a grin.  “Thanks, Mom. I just needed to stretch my spirit.”

She got up, pulled a loose skirt over her bikini bottoms, slipped her feet into her flip flops and held out her hand.

Times like that are an important reminder for me that it is so much more vital to take the time and address how we feel when we’re feeling it than to try and shove those uncomfortable emotions out of sight.  It took maybe three minutes to interrupt her obvious physical discomfort and turn it around and it was more than worth it.  Maybe next time she’ll be able to do it herself. Maybe I’ll have to help a few more times before she’s got it down.  I’m just grateful to have been given the gift of being her mom for now because I’m learning just as much as she is about what it takes to be sensitive in the world.

The Chopra Center offers four 21-day free guided meditation sessions every year and my friend Thereza turned me on to it last summer. We agreed to do the meditations every day and get together once a week to compare notes.  I never would have stuck to it without knowing that she was expecting me to have some insights the following week, and it turned out to be such a great experience that I have signed up for every one since then.  I have had mixed success, always starting out with the intention to find 15-20 minutes a day to sit and listen and meditate, but somewhere around day 5 or 6 I find myself skipping one or waiting until the evening to do it and then being antsy the entire time.

I haven’t gone to yoga or meditated in at least two months now, given the disruption in our schedules from moving and the beginning of summer, so when this meditation challenge rolled around, I signed up without hesitation.  This morning started out perfectly for the first day of the session.  Bubba headed to the airport at 6:30 and both girls were still asleep as I rolled out of bed.  Nobody woke up when I loudly steamed the milk for my coffee or clanged the kibble into the dog’s metal food bowl.  I did a quick scan of my favorite news website to make sure nothing earth-shattering happened overnight, checked my email to determine the same, and then settled in to meditate.

We always start by simply noticing the breath coming in and out of our nostrils and the next step for me is generally critiquing my breath. Is it too shallow? Too quick? Am I flaring my nostrils instead of simply letting the air flow in and out? Am I breathing from my lungs or my diaphragm? (Sounds restful, huh?)  As I gently try to push those thoughts out of the way and sit, I do my best to imagine a deep, slow-flowing river out in front of me. Every set of words that forms in my brain becomes a leaf on the surface of that river that I can watch float downstream. That is how I attempt to let those thoughts simply evaporate from my consciousness and bring my awareness back to my breath and the meditation.  It doesn’t always work, but it’s my method.

Today, because it was the first time I’ve meditated in a while, was harder.  It is always harder to let the thoughts go when I’ve been accustomed to holding on to them, manipulating them, squeezing every last drop of usefulness out of them and letting them lead me on to something else.  I am rarely surprised by the things that pop up for me during meditation – what should I cook for dinner tonight? when was my last blog post? can I get some meaningful message from this meditation that I can write about? (not likely if I don’t stop thinking and start meditating, idiot).

Today, I did actually notice something new.  While I was attempting to float my thoughts away, I found myself wanting to ensure that some of them would come back around after meditation.  I know that during meditation I am not supposed to grab on to them, but that thing I thought about making for dinner? I was afraid if I let it slip away that later I wouldn’t remember what it was.  Same with the idea for the book I wanted to look for at the library today.  I realized that I am really rather attached to my thoughts as finite entities that will disappear into thin air if I don’t develop them.  And then where will I be? Reinventing the wheel (dinner menu/blog post/list of who to call to do research on ____________.)

In some desperate attempt to ensure their survival in my psyche later, my brain tried to etch key words on each ‘thought leaf.’ After two, I realized that this counts as holding on to those trains of thought which is definitely not what I was supposed to be doing here, so I resigned myself to letting that go and focusing on my breath again.

So, to recap: Morning 1 of the current Chopra Center Meditation Challenge. I discovered that, yup, I’m still frustrated by my own racing thoughts during meditation. Yup, I need guided meditation to have any hope of a chance of focusing on quieting my mind. And, most importantly, the reason I have such difficulty letting my thoughts simply pop up and disappear is because I am afraid they won’t pop up again later and they might be really good ones. Ones I can’t afford to let slip away.

Clearly I need this process. If only as a reminder of my own tendency to emphasize the importance of my every thought, my tendency to over-inflate and lose perspective.  Bring on Day 2!

Last week Lola was on edge off and on for a few days. She has trouble with transitions and the weather has been crazy around here – sunny one day and snowing the next – and basketball season ended on a Saturday with lacrosse starting a mere two days later. She expressed her discomfort with the upheavals in her routine by erupting in to hysterical outbursts of screaming about seemingly pathetically small upsets (like being told she had to put her laundry away before watching TV). She was unpredictable – teary one minute and her normal, smiley self the next.

Thursday morning she woke up slowly which is terribly unlike her. She normally bounces out of bed with enthusiasm and a rush to greet the new day. She balked at being asked to eat breakfast and gather her schoolwork up and just wanted to sit on the couch and watch television. She moped out to the car and when we arrived at school, burst into tears when she remembered that her least favorite teacher was teaching that day, substituting for her favorite teacher who would normally be there.
I asked her to climb in to the front seat of the car and close her eyes. I turned on the seat warmer, told her to place her feet on the floor of the car and take a few deep breaths. I guided her through a simple chakra-energizing routine (she loves visualizing the colors of her chakras and sending energy from one to the next) and then asked her to sit quietly and think of a few things that make her unique and special. Is she generous? Funny? Loving? Clever? Artistic? Musical? When she had a short list in her head (I didn’t ask her to share them with me or justify them in any way), I asked her to choose one of her favorites and hold it in her mind, surrounded by a color of her own choosing. I asked her to think of a few examples or ways she exhibits this trait in her daily life and sit with those for a moment. When she was done, I had her breathe deeply one more time and open her eyes. The whole thing took about five minutes.
She seemed much more calm and relaxed when I walked her into the classroom and said goodbye.
At the end of the day when I came to get her, she bounced into the car with her normal mile-wide grin, clamoring for a snack as she rattled off details from her day. Mid-sentence, she stopped and said,
“Hey, Mom! You know that meditation we did this morning? You know what I chose? Funny. I’m funny. And I swear that I was the funniest today I’ve ever been. Just congratulating myself this morning for being funny in my head made me more likely to be funny all day long. I swear I cracked everyone up all day long. It was awesome!”
We agreed that this was a cool new meditation to keep in our bag of tricks and I tried it myself the following morning. The trait I chose was generosity and you know what? Lola was right. I found myself being more generous than normal all day long. Simply because I had recognized that generosity was one of the things about myself I like the best.
What trait would you choose?

Last summer I signed up for a free 21-day meditation series from the Chopra Center with a friend of mine. We agreed to do the daily meditations and keep notes and get together every few days or so and share our impressions. Sort of a metaphysical book club. It was so great for so many reasons.

I do meditate.
But I have trouble doing it on my own. I prefer guided meditations and I own a CD or two, but get tired of them pretty quickly. I’ve learned that my monkey mind is pretty strong and tends to jump ahead if I’ve listened to a particular meditation more than a few times, assuming it knows what is coming next and preferring to finish the quiet time so it can get back to jumping frantically from tree to tree.
Having a daily guided meditation and a friend to keep me honest was perfect. I was actually able to trick my mind into acquiescence and had some pretty cool revelations during the three weeks I did it. Thereza and I had fun sharing our impressions of the meditations and, when it was over, I was sad to see it go (but not sad enough to purchase additional meditations – I’m cheap that way).
Monday, the Chopra Center started a new free round of meditations and this time there are four of us doing it. Today’s meditation centered around the ego, part of myself I struggle with accepting, so I was surprised when the facilitator encouraged us to embrace and acknowledge our egos. He talked about it as an essential part of who we are and asked this simple question before allowing us to descend into silent contemplation: What is it that you think you own? Your car? The lane in front of you? Think about the tens of thousands of things you think you own – from material possessions to emotional responses to relationships.
And I dropped in to meditation. The first thing I noticed was that, in my mind’s eye, the right side of my body appeared larger and more developed than the left side. I’ve noticed this phenomenon before and what it means to me is that I’m too much in my head of late. I need to stop thinking and categorizing and judging and acting and start simply being and accepting more. When I do that, the two sides of my body come into balance. I know it sounds strange, but that is how imbalance projects itself onto my consciousness.
The second thing I noticed as I asked myself the question, “What do I think I own?” was a pair of red Keds walking past my mind’s eye. Instantly, I knew that these were my beloved red tennis shoes from my elementary years. Other visions slowly made their way forward, including the calico cat I rescued when I was eight or nine, our family’s dog, the wallpaper in the guest room that my sister thought looked like nests of spiders, and all manner of other random things from my childhood.
Over the fifteen minutes or so that I sat watching these things march past, a couple of times I wondered why the only things my ego conjured up were things that I used to own. And then the barrier melted away. These were memories. Most of which I hadn’t actually recalled until just now, but memories just the same. My ego is ruled by the past, by those things I wish I knew about my childhood as well as the things I know shaped the person I am today. The bulk of my ego treasure chest is cluttered with memory and black holes I wish I could fill with memories.
All at once, I literally felt my left side growing. It was as if someone were inflating it with air or blood was rushing to oxygen-starved tissues and suddenly my two sides were equal. Balance. The recognition that my ego is largely ruled by things that belong in the past was all it took to restore balance. Within seconds, I heard the meditation instructor’s voice calling us back to consciousness and I felt clear-headed and centered.
There are times when a revelation brings quiet clarity, a certain knowledge. Today was one of those times, and the beauty of it is that I don’t even feel the need to do anything with this knowledge. I am not spurred to go chastise my ego for living in the past or railing against things I can’t change. I don’t feel as though I need to go any farther with this information right now. Simply knowing is enough for today. It feels like a great accomplishment and, once again, I am struck by the realization of how powerful self-awareness is, especially when it isn’t accompanied by self-judgment.

There are moments when sleep is delicious. Better than any silky, creamy mouthful of cheesecake or the sharp tang of lemonade and ice in the summer. I think that it is the heaviness of sleep that I like the most. That feeling of weightlessness and immobility that occur simultaneously.

In the winter, as I lie between the worn flannel sheets under the solid weight of the down covers in absolute comfort, the perfect position, no twinges or itches to make me move, with Bubba’s warm solidity next to me and the darkness outside cloaking everything, I feel heavy and still. In those rare moments when the house is quiet except for the whum of the air through the vents and Bubba’s soft breathing noises and I am slack with sleep but aware, that weight is the most comforting and comfortable sensation I can imagine. In those even more precious moments when my mind is truly synchronized with my body and I am only aware but not alert, straining to see the red numbers on the clock or flexing my ears to listen for the whine of the dog or sparking my brain to begin wondering, I am at peace. This moment, this feeling, this discrete space in time is. It just is.
There will be time for waking and working and moving, but when I find those snatches of peace in every realm and don’t feel the need to stretch them out (which makes them pop like so many soap bubbles) or make them last or dispel them myself before they run out on their own, I am grateful for the heaviness of sleep.

Quiet morning. Girls both at school and Bubba’s off to California. Dishes done. Laundry put away. Email answered. Dog walked. It occurs to me how long it has been since I sat in a quiet room and meditated, so I head upstairs, settle down on a cushion, cross my legs and begin breathing.

The cat, however, has different ideas. This cat, who is very aloof and has never sat in anyone’s lap in the six years we have had her, has decided she needs to be touched. I can hear her soft pads as she makes her way across the carpet toward me, and I hear her begin to purr just before her silky head crashes in to my left hand. Eyes closed, I am determined to ignore her until she goes away. This is one more distraction – a chance to practice focusing on my breath and letting everything else slip away.
She paces between my hands, angling her head so that the soft space between her ears bangs into my knuckles as she walks in front of my folded legs. Back and forth. Insistent.
The longer I ignore her, the pushier she gets. Now she is stopping for a second at a time in front of each hand, pushing and nudging and purring and as she makes her U-turn to walk to the other hand, she rubs her flanks against me.
I can’t help but smile. She knows what she wants and she is going to get it. For what ever reason, at this moment, she needs to be touched. I open my eyes and indulge her, scratching behind her ears and underneath her collar as she melts into me. If I don’t see this as a power play, if I don’t resent her for ‘winning’ or ‘getting her way,’ I can simply acknowledge that she knew what she needed and set about making it happen. I can stand in awe of her ability to make this the most important thing right now. I can wonder about my own self-awareness in a quiet moment and whether I am able to pinpoint that one thing that would feel the best to me and go after it.
I am grateful for this lesson and this quiet moment. And the truth is, even though I didn’t meditate, this touch is fulfilling for me, too. Feeling her thick fur fill up the spaces between my fingers and listening to her pure purring pleasure is satisfying and grounding. It gives me hope that the next time I am in need of touch I can let someone know.