Confession of a Fidgety Meditator
Dr. Marcia Hootman
Author and fitness expert
In my childhood home, each person was assigned a specific task. My dad’s job was to wash dishes after dinner. In retrospect, it’s not surprising the memory remains so vivid to me. I remember watching him as he lovingly handled the job every night. He was so methodical, never varying his routine. First he put on an apron, next he filled the sink with soap and water. (This was before most kitchens had automatic dishwashers.) Making sure the temperature was just right, he gently lowered each dish into its soapy place. The last step was setting out a drying towel on the counter. The preliminary work done, it was time to get on with the task at hand.
From the moment he completed the pre-routine, dad went on automatic. Today I realize that in his own way, this was his meditation — a time when he could be fully present. Nothing to think about except the rhythmic movement of lifting each dish out of the water, making sure it was clean, rinsing it off and placing it on the drying towel. His mind didn’t ask, “Hmm what’s my purpose here? What’s my next step? Can I quiet my mind? What is it I have to do after the dishes are done?” The calm radiated from his eyes, but I knew it was birthed in his heart. He was at total peace.
How can washing dishes put someone at peace and how can it be a meditation? By definition, meditation is continued or extended reflection or a fixing of thought on something… the ability to maintain a single-pointed concentration that promotes a sense of well-being. This labor of love was something he could count on. He knew if he did the preparation, he’d be in the “zone.” Same time every night, same place, same preparation, same results. Everyone knew this was dad’s quiet time, so nobody bothered him. Dad was perfectly happy in his domain, focused on the task and nothing more.
I’m not suggesting you hand wash dishes. I’m suggesting that meditation is not mysterious, it’s not a woo-woo religious experience. It’s simply being able to still the “monkey mind” long enough to relax into a feeling of well-being, not concerned about the outside world. There is no new skill to learn. You already know how. Ask yourself where in life you get that incredible feeling of peace and well-being that comes from one pointed intention and total relaxation. Is it painting, cooking, soaking in a hot tub, riding a bike, singing? Once you determine your particular nirvana, create a pre-meditation routine that will transport you into the same space — the one my dad was in every night after dinner, and use it before you “officially” meditate — at the same time, same place, every day. Just as the soap and water washed away the debris of our dinners, your meditation time will wash away the cares of the day.
How easy is it to start or restart a meditation practice? No need to leave the house. No worries about bad hair days, no class fee and no pre-requisite training. You can meditate anytime, day or night. Just boot up your laptop. How easy it that? Don’t put off giving yourself the gift of meditation. It will change your life dramatically. Find a series that is about to begin, register online and embark on a wondrous journey to your real self.
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