Most people believe meditation means the act of sitting peacefully in tranquility. In my experience, rarely is it all peace and sweetness - and pure stillness is not even attainable nor desirable, considering that we inhabit a body that breathes.
So, sometimes an 8-mile moving meditation amidst the glory of Mother Nature (e.g. . hiking up around 2500 feet of mountainous magic) is the goal for the day. And very often the same day keeps knocking, and you end up washing the dirt off of your charmingly exhausted body with an ocean swim, accompanied by a nap on the sand whilst hugging the cutest pup on the planet. That time turned into today-- with a call like that, how could I refrain from answering?
Pure bliss is not some distant, foreign experience. It is found within the space of listening to the call that speaks to your soul.
For me, that call means time in nature. Today, my bliss was at the top of a mountain, but also in the space between slippery steps up “Misery Hill,” as I chose to hear the voice of my own strength, love, and curiosity, rather than that of fear, defeat, or pain. My happiness was in the lightness of my body which was floating in the arms of the mysterious ocean, but also in the option to feel my aliveness in its entirety as I run with joy heading first into the scary and daunting cold of its ebbing waters. My bliss was in returning to my warm dry towel, but even more in the feeling of the warm messy sand and perfectly radiant sunshine on my reverent body.
Meditation in Every Moment: Washing Your Dishes
You know what’s so therapeutic about meditation, should you seek and observe it in the following way? It is ripe for the picking in EVERY moment. You can literally turn any (or almost) any act (or non-act) into a meditation. All you have to do is make a choice to do it so. To stand in the seat of awareness and notice. You are alive! Breathe. Be human. Be spirit. Be soul. Be in awe. Make each moment precious - infuse it with deep meaning simply by witnessing it as a miracle.
Thich Nhat Hanh suggests washing the dishes while you are showering the baby Buddha. If we are present to the washing, rather than dwelling on past or future, or feeding into current distractions, we are able to realize the “miracle of life while standing at the sink.”
We spend so much energy following our unruly thoughts around the circus of our minds. What if we stopped following them and started simply observing them? Appreciating their strength, dexterity, ingenuity, and dogged persistence.
Cheerfully admiring their absurdity, dynamism, alacrity, and sheer entertainment value. You don't visit the circus and expect, or even expect, to return home with the circus animals. Why should you give any old temporary thought that bells on your door a space in your sacred home? Answer the door if you wish to see who is there.
Say hello, have a conversation, offer them tea, learn something new about your neighbors, but ultimately let this visitor be just that--a visitor--not an inhabitant or a long-term guest who was never actually invited to begin with.
And maybe next time as a substitute for the circus, choose the theater--or perhaps the forest. Your thoughts have the power to transform the landscape of your mind, and therefore your entire life. Your thoughts are not inherently “bad.” The goal is not to stop thinking altogether (however, those meditative moments can and likely will present themselves with a certain indescribable bliss). The journey is about learning to hear your thoughts with the ear of an unbiased and unaffected observer.
The journey is mainly about modifying the lens or the headphones in this case, through which you visualize your life. It is about learning how to exist in that YOU.
Meditation is about cultivating your perception. The more skilled we become at listening and seeing, the more we will feel seen and heard. The easier it will be to embrace truth from fiction; the voice of the real self from that of the injured self. As the listener, we have the authority to choose which voice gets the most airtime. As the seer, we can choose to see the inexplicable beauty and perfection of ourselves and everything that is.
Hannah Fries is a California-based licensed acupuncturist and herbalist (L.Ac.), as well as an Integrative Body Psychotherapy allied professional. She seeks to discover & alchemize the psycho-emotional and spiritual roots of disease and disorder in the physical body to free her clients from the obstacles that interfere with their innate healing capacity. Find out more about Hannah and her work on her website at https://www.friespirit.com or on Instagram @friespirit