Wednesday, November 9, 2011


After a lapse of four years I have finally made it back to a meditation practice. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I got very involved in the whole mind-body movement. I chanted my chakras, read the works of Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, and Ram Dass, took enough yoga classes to be a yogini, rubbed lavender oil into my temples at night, got weekly massages, carried semi-precious stones believed to have healing powers…pretty much the whole gamut of complementary therapies.  In my mind if I was going to follow the mandates of Western medicine by injecting myself with a drug that held, at best, a 30-40% rate of slowing the disease and had fairly serious side effects (liver failure) I was also going to follow my own path and open myself up to all the wisdom that existed for hundreds of years before we in West learned how to write. Meditation was one of these practices, one that I stuck with twice a day for twenty minutes for 3 years. A blink of an eye to a Buddhist monk but for me it was hard work.

You see I have what Buddhists kindly call ‘monkey mind’. Personally it feels more like ‘feral cats on meth in a burlap sack mind’ but who am I to argue with Buddhists? What it means is that even when I’m sitting quietly I am still pondering whether Kim Kardashian got married for publicity or love, why people are allowed to have 20 children and whether the Germans will have to step in to save the European union. Like any other body part this amount of activity wears on the brain and, often, keeps stressful thoughts and cortisol levels elevated. In short, not a good thing.

The human mind was designed to think so believing that meditation is ‘not thinking’ is a bit off. What it is is focusing the mind and all its beautiful power on one thought, a mantra, a single word, or easiest of all (in theory!), your breath. For the most part, I go with my breath because my yoga experience has taught me ways to slow it, which relaxes the mind and body, and I sort of need that these days. Who doesn’t?

So here I am, the first thing every morning sitting in half Lotus on my chair, eyes closed. I breath in and out more and more slowly and deeply and sometimes I even pause at the top or bottom of each breath and in that dark quiet space inside I find a peace that is so welcoming and profound I want to stay for as long as I can. Which, of course, I can’t and that’s probably the point. Still, despite what the day may hold, my feral cat brain, the actions of others, this is the grounding I need. I press my hands together in prayer and bring them to my heart center, feeling my heartbeat, my breath moving throughout my body. Head bowed I whisper “Namaste” grateful for the divine that is in me and hopeful that I will recognize it in others. Namaste to you all.


tweedlibrarian said...

Ha! What a descriptive image of your mind - "feral cats on meth in a burlap sack mind."

I really admire your determination to take the time to meditate every day. Your meditation corner looks very inviting, and calming.

Abby said...

And "namaste" to you as well. Most of all, I'm just happy to see a picture of your chair...finally ;)

Catherine said...

Sue- you've been around me, it's accurate right?

Abby- that's why I included it. It is indeed a quiet spot.

Kerry said...

I wish I could meditate but you've motivated me to try again Catherine. Peaceful weekend to you.

Brooklyn said...

I am so glad you stopped by my blog, because it made me curious to check yours out and I have been VERY lax in my meditation practice even though I know how beneficial it is... I think it is a sign. I guess I have to thank Andy Rooney!


Catherine said...

Gosh, Jen, then it wasa win-win for both of us because I loved the Andy Rooney piece. I crashed through the 40yr ceiling a decade ago- hopefully he believed as we got older we got better!

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