Writing From Home
With these writings, I highlight some of my own experiences as a household practitioner: a meditator navigating the challenges and opportunities of our modern world.
It’s grey outside. The window to my left reveals low-hanging sky. Leaves and grass and the narrow street are all slightly dark, suggesting rain not long ago. An occasional person wanders by. Rare voices rise muted in the air. Which is the tone of this scene as a whole: muted, subdued, slow.
I remember purchasing ‘Down In The Groove’. It was one of the last entries in Dylan’s considerable back catalogue brought into my collection. I’d seen the album before, but had resisted the impulse to bring it home. Though I had not yet read the words quoted above, I’d heard many similar verdicts through the years.
Through the past many months, I have been discerning what my work with embodied meditation might look like moving forward. Events in the past year or so have provoked this question to the surface. The resulting contemplation has been rich and active and, more often than not, wholly surprising.
My daughter has been listening to Bob Dylan lately. She’ll come out of her room and, while prepping lunch or making tea, talk about some of the more recent tunes in her playlist rotation. ‘Visions of Johanna’ and ‘Blind Willie McTell’ have come up several times. ‘Shelter From the Storm’. ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’.
At the beginning of every practice session, I spend a few moments sitting quietly. I stop all obvious movement and orient my wandering attention in a single direction. I’m not too forceful with this. I don’t define that single direction too precisely. Nor do I demand too much fidelity in this regard. All of which means there’s a fair bit of drifting during this span.
It was a simple return. My daughter had a pair of socks she wanted to take back. As I was going to the mall anyway, I volunteered to do this. After taking care of my own errands, I searched out the appropriate clothing store, offered up the item and receipt, and watched as the amount was placed on my credit card. Like I said, a simple return.
I’ve struggled with this post. Three different drafts have been readied. There’s a sense of pushing in each of them. Too much knowing where the piece is going. Too much wanting to be something specific. As a result, not one of these feels quite right to me. Which is frustrating for any number of reasons.
I used to walk downtown a lot. Sometimes for an acupuncture appointment or work meeting. On other occasions, I’d run errands or go for a cinnamon bun at Bubby Rose’s. Whatever the reason, I used to make the thirty minute journey there and thirty minute journey back several times a month. The pandemic has changed this.
I’ve been reading A Wonderful Creation: How the LP Saved Our Lives. Looking into what author David Hepworth affirms to be the golden age of the long-playing record (1967 to 1982; from Sergeant Pepper to Thriller), the book considers how our relationship with music altered through this span and how this connection has shifted since.
I woke this morning and thought of meditation. My body was rigid with tension that had accumulated through the past several weeks, the last few months. I could feel worry grip beneath my shoulder blades, between my ribs, in the webbing of my fingers and toes. ‘Can’t wait to practice,’ I thought with anticipation, ‘and let all this dissolve.’
It took me a moment to understand what I was seeing. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary: four columns of shopping baskets, stacked and sanitized, waiting for use. At the same time, however, there was something different about this.
When Bruce Cockburn’s most recent album appeared in September of 2019, my initial response was disappointment. Crowing Ignites is a collection of instrumental pieces. While I do admire Cockburn’s musicality – he is, in my opinion, one of the most accomplished guitarists of my lifetime – this is not what draws me to him.