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.
When we meditate together in the Online Gatherings, people are encouraged to arrange themselves however feels appropriate in that moment. Some of us lay down. Some of us sit up. Some of us move from one position to the other within a session.
In the past few years, I’ve thought a lot about teaching. More specifically, I’ve thought a lot about what guides my teaching. What are the core principles shaping my presentation of meditation in the world? I find myself coming back to three main elements again and again.
We affect one another. I was thinking this earlier today. After encountering a series of unexpected difficulties, I found myself frustrated and grumbling, beginning to view my life with a whole lot of resentment. And then, I remembered.
New year is a pretty common occasion for connection and reflection. Whether this occurs in solitude or whilst discussing a popular year-end ‘Top Ten’ with friends, whether this results in a list of formal resolutions or a quiet inner acknowledgement, many people mark this time by tuning in and taking stock.
Covid made it’s way into our household recently. With one of the three of us stricken by the virus, we decided to try preventing any further spread. We co-ordinated movements, opened windows wide, donned masks. This did not work as hoped.
I took a tumble in a local mall recently. Making a sharp turn through the gap between a pair of upholstered benches, I discovered there actually was no gap between those benches. A low table occupied the space. Which was a fact that soon had me sprawled on the floor in the midst of Saturday afternoon shopping.
It was striking. The moment I stepped out of the grocery store, the soft autumn afternoon engulfed me. ‘Embraced’ might be a more appropriate word here, however. So let’s try again: the moment I stepped out of the grocery store, the soft autumn afternoon embraced me.
Weather around these parts has shifted. While most days still get hot – or, at the very least, warm – there’s a coolness in the air that communicates quite clearly: things are changing. It’s tempting to tumble into some sort of narrative about this. ‘Summer’s hard on me,’ for instance, ‘I can’t wait for fall!’
One could – quite justifiably, I believe – look at this world of which we are part and feel concern. Polarization and conflict, political, economic, and environmental instability, aggression, uncertainty, and fear are all prominent aspects of our present landscape, never mind some of the more specific difficulties that might be pointed to.
This has not been an easy piece to write. My schedule is overfull right now. My to do lists are overburdened. Concerns about the present and worries about the future are robust and active. These are coming at me like the crows that sometimes dive toward my head each spring, mad with an intention it’s hard to outrun.
Bruce Cockburn is on tour right now. I’ve written before of the fact that, having followed his career for so long, every new release from this artist feels like checking in with an old friend. Since the advent of YouTube, every new tour provides something similar.
I have, over the years, been asked all kinds of questions about meditation. There have been big questions and small. Difficult questions and easy. Questions I’m able to respond to immediately and others that have required time – in some instances, a span of years – to consider.