Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.Eckhart Tolle
I did it again. I accidentally (no pun!) put the Efferdent denture cleaner for my Invisalign in my neti pot and soaked my retainers in the neti pot saline. For a bit, I thought I had put my contacts in the wrong eyes, too. (Turns out mountain dryness is to blame for my inability to focus…)
Not a huge vote of confidence in the mindful department, which begs the question: How do I translate all this stuff I believe into a practice? Then, how do I incorporate that into the moments of my day? (Not very well this morning, perhaps.)
From experience, I know that practice takes discipline and, conversely, that the discipline of a daily practice is what I need. When I am actually committed to a daily practice, I start to get these glimpses of awareness, sometimes as simple as realizing I don’t remember putting my contacts in and may have unconsciously put them in the wrong eyes. In meditation, this happens a lot. We become lost in thought while we are sitting and then come back down to earth and think, “Wait, I am thinking again.” This is called being the observer. It’s a good thing.
I do my best to keep it light:
“Thank you God for this thing that clears my sinuses and keeps the Chicago flu and the Ketchum crud at bay.”
“Yay, I do not have my ancestors yellow crooked teeth.”
“Amazing, I can put these little things in my eyes and see and do incredible things.”
And, “Thank you for stopping me from putting that blue ammonia denture stuff in my nose.”
Today, my phone slipped out of my hand as a friend and I were attempting a chairlift selfie. I caught it between my legs. “Oh my GOD,” we both said. Hallelujah, something else to be grateful for.
The practice for today is to find peace. Go there. Be mindful. If you’ve retreated on spring break and there is natural beauty at your fingertips, get out there. If you are under cloudier skies, find or make space beautiful. A few ideas if you live in Lake Forest:
- 9AM today: Sunday Community Contemplation at Lake Forest College, Reid Hall next to Lily Holt chapel, Room 100. Space for all.
- 1PM today: Forever Om Yoga with Ginny Wells. Athlete’s Recovery with yoga nidra.
- 5PM today: Evensong at Church of the Holy Spirit, 400 E Westminster Lake Forest.. A beautiful service with sung psalms.
- 7PM tomorrow: Forever Om candlelight yoga.
If you are elsewhere and can’t identify a place to go to, guided meditation is a godsend. Download the “Insight Timer” app, grab headphones, and listen to Sarah Blondin’s episodes. Perhaps try Himalayan Singing Bowls or music that lifts you up. I love Alison Krauss, Johnny Cash, and The Avett Brothers. Make it happy, make it happen. Put the phone away today for several hours. I will, too.
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My brilliant friend, Ellen, wrote the below. (And she’s bravely pictured above!)
I have read so much recently about meditation. How it focuses and calms the mind. How it silences the negative voices. Having grown up in the Quaker faith, I recognized this as Meeting. We gather on Sunday morning. I settle, think about what I need to pick up at the grocery store when Meeting is over, look at my nails in horror and resolve to do something about them, remember a bill that has gone unpaid, and then, slowly, like sinking into a hot bath, I shift my mind to a higher calling. God. My marriage. My children. How grateful I am. How I want to better myself. It is so peaceful, so out-of-body. So restorative.
When I moved to the mountains of Idaho, I found myself without a Meeting for the first time in my life. I had always dragged myself to Meeting in Connecticut, at Duke, in New York and London out of a sense of religious obligation. In Idaho, with no Meeting to go to, I realized that I hadn’t really been dragging myself. I had been nurturing my inner self. In the mountains, I have learned to find my Meeting in nature.
The deep blue of the sky. The warmth of an orange sunset on a snowy mountain peak. The endless permutations of glistening snow on a backcountry ski. Untouched snow is soothing. When there are footprints from a snow hare or a fox it’s almost as if you’ve suddenly come across litter on the road. It is molded only by the sun and the wind; it is so mind-bendingly beautiful. I savor and stop at these moments, focus my mind, and take it in. Really take it in. And then, for that moment, the grocery list is forgotten and the soul is fortified.
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