As I take a look at my last few posts here, I am struck by the water theme that is developing, without my planning it. (I love to plan, so I am always delighted to see what can emerge without planning!) There was the post about flowing with whatever is coming your way, the one about changing expectations depending on the flow of changing circumstances. And in here, we are bringing this to a more micro level— the flow of right here and now. The little river of this moment.
A side note is that I have spent more time than usual around and in rivers lately. I got to spend an afternoon with friends at the Carmel River a few weeks ago, and then this weekend my husband and I camped at Arroyo Seco and spend an afternoon in a beautiful gorge. My husband actually took a nap on a rock right in the middle of the river, and I explored and swam to my heart’s content. The whole time, I thought I was just enjoying myself and having fun. I wasn’t thinking about the meaning of a river or anything like that… but I am pleasantly surprised to see how this embodiment, this direct experiencing of the river’s flow is permeating, is bubbling up into my teaching.
I just began teaching a new round of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at our community hospital, and I love it so much. I love this invitation to come back to basics, to see meditation and mindfulness through the eyes of a beginner, to respond with fresh eyes to the questions that arise.
One of the quandaries that comes up again and again is about thoughts. When we start to meditate, we often come into it with the same approach that we bring to the rest of our life: What should I be doing? Am I doing it right? What duration, what experience equals a successful meditation?
I think this is completely natural. We hear of all of the benefits of meditation, and we want to do well at it, to have relief from our suffering, to enjoy moments of peace… whatever our motivation is.
And yet, meditation (and mindfulness practice in general) isn't about achieving a perfect "blank slate" mind, a state of perpetual calm... no matter how attractive that might sound. There is no “doing it right.” Or actually, there is only doing it right. To show up is to be doing it right.
In meditation, we are opening— opening to the curiosity of: What is happening now? What is unfolding in this moment? What’s going on inside me right now? What’s going on around me? When we sit still, be quiet, and pay attention, we have a front row seat to this unfolding.
We are sitting smack dab in the middle of the ever-flowing-and-changing river of this moment and experiencing whatever is floating around and through. This is quite a shift from the job we often take on of trying to direct the flow or build a dam!
Come sit in the river with me.