Purple Flowers Field of Badlands Utah by Guy Tal

Purple Flowers Field of Badlands Utah by Guy Tal

“People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”

 — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let me be clear from the onset . . . Meditation is rarely peaceful, blissful, or serene for me. There are moments when my mind quiets and I am aware of my breathing, or even that awareness disappears. Most of the time I’m listening to my thoughts racing by – things I don’t want to forget, memories, and especially plans.

I first started meditating, or sitting, seven years ago. I was curious. It became a challenge for me to see if I could sit still for 30 minutes at a time.

There are many benefits to meditating, but it was not scientific evidence that prompted me to experiment. It was knowing that I think too much, and simply the question of, “Can I learn to stop?”

My goal was not shutting down the mind, but slowing down and being present to whatever was there. I read Seeking the Heart of Wisdom and decided to commit to a daily break from activity.

Practicing Acceptance


“You want to escape from pain, but the more you struggle to escape, the more you inflame the agony.  You are afraid and want to be brave, but the effort to be brave is fear trying to run away from itself.  You want peace of mind, but the attempt to pacify it is like trying to calm the waves with a flat-iron.”

Alan Watts

The tension that existed when I began to sit still exists today. I know what I want, a quiet mind in this case, and I’m accustomed to making that happen through force of will. Ha!

Just like trying to make myself feel differently than how I actually feel, the mind does not respond to coercion. My only response is to let it be. If only it was that easy.

So, I sit in order to learn to let go, in order to accept my discomfort with sitting and the noise of my incessant mind. Does it sound torturous? On some days it is. But mostly now I can smile both at the activity and the voice inside me that grunts through gritted teeth, “Shut up!” “We’re trying to defeat this!”

I whisper, “It’s okay,” to myself and resist the urge to go into battle. It’s a beautiful practice for developing acceptance.

Slowing Down


Both my passion, and my tendency to cast myself in the role of Superman, often mean I’m in a state of constant mind and body activity. I love the fullness of my life, but I don’t want to live frantically.

Meditation encourages me to stop and intentionally move into the present. It’s often painful because I have so many good things I want to do.

Pressing the pause button to dance, do yoga, and sit are some of the ways I’m learning to slow down. I also love that my wife moves naturally at a slow pace. She teaches me that very little in life is urgent in the way she moves, knows when to rest, and savors our sensual world.

At the end of our meditation together, I pull her legs toward me and she climbs onto my lap for a moment. This, too, encourages me not to jump up and keep going. We breathe together and prepare to go back out into the world as more accepting and aware beings.

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