This month, I am honored to share this blog space with a guest author, as we continue to explore the gift of meditation in our lives.
One of my regularly assigned duties as a teenager was cleaning up after dinner which included clearing the table, putting away leftovers, and washing all the dishes. Despite our cabinetry having generous opportunity for a dishwasher, my father would joke, “We have a dishwasher. Her name is Meghan.” At 13, the humor was lost on me and the sideways jab only served to fuel my resentment toward this menial task. One thing that kept me going until the last fork was rinsed was the refrain, “At least I’ll be the best dishwasher on the planet. That’ll make me a good catch for sure.” Earlier this year, I found myself hand washing a large volume of dishes and I mumbled under my breath, “I hate this. SO. MUCH.”
I paused just long enough to realize that my body was frozen with resistance (and resentment) toward the task. I took a deep breath - the kind you can feel being drawn to the soles of your feet - and started to relax. I stood up straight, eased and squared my shoulders, and then noticed the feeling of the Scrub Daddy in my soapy hand. My movements seemed to slow down and it began to feel as though I was dancing with the items as I thoughtfully washed them. The temperature of the water registered in my fingertips, the scent of Dawn wafted through my nostrils, and the satisfaction of a squeaky clean plastic cup draining on the rack tickled me so much that I felt a smile curl on my lips.
I’m a text book case of “late bloomer”. For years, I read and heard about all the wonderful benefits of mindfulness such as reduced stress, more presence and focus, and a deeper felt sense of connection to higher self. But I railed against the idea of meditating because I harbored a lot of misconceptions about the what, how, and when of meditating.
I thought I had to sit in uncomfortable positions - as a woman of extravagant body, it’s not easy to sit cross-legged or with my heels on my knees.
I thought I had to have an empty mind - with Mercury in Virgo, my brain is super charged for analysis and reflection, it would be impossible to cease thinking altogether.
I thought I had to be initiated into a program and earn my way to meditative bliss.
I know today that all these myths (and countless) others are not true. Ironically, I came to know them as untruths as a result of meditating. My favorite meditation posture is supine. My best meditation experiences include some kind of movement or tactile sensation (e.g. hands on the body or handling beads with my fingers). I am not part of a particular religious faith or spiritual persuasion and I’m still able to enjoy the lasting benefits of meditation.
When I maintain a consistent meditation practice, life unfolds in high-definition. No, make that better than HD. Each of my senses is awakened and open to receive all the little joys that make up the tapestry of life. Even during the ten minutes I spend washing dishes or tending to the litter box everyday, I can find a few moments of bliss and gratitude about simply being alive. All of these little moments of mindfulness prepare me to be more present to myself and others in both soft and hard times.