Guest blog by Jim Barrett – Serenity Community member
The physical benefits we derive from meditating are very impressive but few of us can spend a significant amount of time at this practice and not have it touch our spiritual nature. Stilling our minds, feeling our heart beat and listening to our breathing directly connects us with that most wonderful and complex creation, the human creature that is us. Moving through our lives with a meditative attitude, developing the equanimity that allows us to observe without becoming attached to, or repelled by, our experiences, allows us to marvel at the complexity and depth of the world around us. For many of us the experience can be a connection to whatever we perceive as the Highest Power of our universe.
It is easiest to envision meditation as someone sitting with their legs crossed on a cushion with their hands arranged mystically saying special words. In actuality, meditation is a state of mind and not a location or activity. When one understands that all meditation starts with being mindfully in the Now, then the obvious corollary is that any activity that involves being in the Now can be meditation.
The parishioner who kneels at the altar and prays the Rosary is meditating if they are mindfully considering their prayers and actions as they do so.
My friend the gardener, who finds her connection, peace, and tranquility in the soil is meditating when she kneels down, focuses her mind and begins to commune with nature as she plants, weeds, cultivates and encourages her flowers to grow.
The runner who submerges herself in the pace, rhythm, and breathing of her exertions, if she is being mindfully in the Now, is meditating.
The cook, who mindfully prepares food for his household is meditating if he is in the Now and paying attention to the moment as he handles his ingredients, considers the tastes and flavors he is combining and creates something more than nutrition by putting a significant portion of himself into his preparations.
By extension, one could argue that the line worker in the factory would be meditating if he is in the Now and being mindful when he attaches the widget to the gizmo as it comes down the production line.
Watching a sunset with the right attitude is definitely meditation.
One of the most traditional Ways makes extensive use of walking meditation. The technique consists of being mindfully aware of yourself and your environment as you perform that most basic of activities, walking.
So, if meditating brings us closer to our Highest Power then it makes sense that carrying our meditative attitude outside the zendo helps us connect our daily world with that Highest Power.
On a recent beautiful fall day here in Wisconsin, I chose to remove myself from the urban area I live in and spend the day in a not too distant forest. After a few hours of walking through the brilliantly colored trees and fields that are autumn here, I felt drawn to sit for a few moments and experience the Now. As I listened to the sounds, smelled the aromas and felt the wind and sun on my face I composed myself, took three slow deep breaths and opened my eyes to look at the forest.
I felt a surge of energy and was filled with a wonderful sense of peace and serenity. I remember thinking to myself “This is my connection to my God and my Universe”. I was Meditating.
Jim – Serenity Community Member