Hello, my name is Shobha and I meditate.
Meditation is very in these days. As ancient and as worldwide a practice as it might be, currently, we are hearing more about it as a mainstream activity. This, in my opinion is a very good thing. The mental, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of meditation are now in the annals of science. These weighty findings have finally given it the heft of credibility and people everywhere can publicly declare without fear of being mocked that they are meditators.
I have meditated off and on over many years but have been practicing it more consistently of late. I cannot say exactly how it helps me except that on the days I skip my meditation, I don’t feel so great. I’m more cranky and not as productive. For some reason, it is not so easy to make the time. Especially since it is best to get it done first thing in the morning. I think it helps to set a positive tone to the day. However, if one has overslept, has not slept well or, has an early morning appointment, the meditation is unhesitatingly skipped. For myself, any other time of day does not quite lend itself to meditation. I am just too distracted. Clearly, I have a long way to go to be able to meditate anytime and anywhere. Gives me something to aspire to. Sort of like the quest to achieving true enlightenment.
Until such time, I have developed alternatives to the traditional way to meditate. You guessed it, it all happens in the garden. In truth, this can be done anywhere but being outside in nature is restorative in itself. How much time you spend on this is up to you. You must be satisfied with your effort and feel like you’ve taken an uplifting break from the day’s obligations.
Once you have entered the garden and visibly begun to calm down and breathe evenly, take a few deep breaths to send a message to the brain that it is in for a treat. Bring your attention to any object in the garden. Say it is a pear. Consider how you would describe a pear. Green, tear drop shaped, smooth skin, sweet in taste, you get the idea. Then, think about tinier details such as the speckled pattern on the skin, the subtly varied shades of the color green, the asymmetry of the shape, the aroma etc., Now you’re really honed into the exercise. Finally, up it a notch. Begin describing the humble pear all over again – this time, as you would to a blind person. Somebody who has never had the sense of sight and does not know this fruit. Tear drop shaped? What is that? How would you describe the color green? You see? It is a challenge. The description can no longer be in comparison to something else. The pear acquires an explanation that is unique to itself. Give it a try.
Like most things, one gets better at this exercise by doing it regularly. It is not so simple and at the same time, it is not really difficult. Anybody of any age can try it. After all, only you are privy to how well you do. No grades and criticisms are given. But right from the start it unfailingly takes you out of yourself and gives you a purposeful diversion. The bonus is that you will find yourself looking more closely at everything. Everyday objects start appearing more beautiful and interesting. In essence, you become more mindful of the moment. And isn’t that what meditation is all about?
I have learned to describe colors as feelings, smells as textures or tastes and generally expanded my descriptive abilities in words as well as in paint. Primarily, I’ve become better at looking at something for what it is. And I accept all of it: the good and the not so good. Because everything is important in making a spider a spider or a rose a rose. I aspire to graduate very soon to doing the same with humans.
Now that meditating has gained wide acceptance and approval, I’m fervently hoping the same happens for naps.
Meditate on these images!
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar