In the spirit of the World Community of Christian Meditation our pastor holds meditation practice twice monthly. While intended to be group reinforcement of our daily individual practice, for me, more typically, it is the sum total of my practice in any given week or month. Our ritual is simple and comfortable--we listen to talks given by the founders of this particular meditation community, meditate for 25 minutes and then share our questions and reactions with each other. The actual meditation practice for me is typically a mix of nodding off (my first still, silent moments in the entire day!), reviewing my "to do" list, contemplating whatever issue in life is ripe for therapy, and trying to breathe in synch with my oft-forgotten mantra.... Ma-ra (inhale) na-tha (exhale). (Maranatha is Aramaic for "Come, Lord Jesus." I suspect my staggered drift from and return to the mantra is translated more as "Come, phonecalltotheENTpickupLucasprescription, Lord, women'sprogramemailnotsentisthereablogpostinthis, Jesus.")
In a first encounter with Zen meditation I was encouraged by the teacher to let all thoughts other than the mantra pass before me much as a train passes through a station--no anticipation of its coming, no following its course. This image returns to me regularly; our church sanctuary, where we practice, is beside the train station. The rumbling return of the evening commuters is, at minimum, a prompt to set aside my "to do" list and return to the mantra. And so again I begin.... Ma-ra (inhale) na-tha (exhale)
When our pastor realized a planned trip home to England conflicted with our scheduled meditation practice, he asked if I would consider facilitating the group. (He is British, after all, and stands on ritual and tradition! The practice must continue!) Matt jokingly suggested to the kids that I was somehow a star or stand-out to be invited to lead. He and I both know the truth--I was invited because I show up....every single time. And given that leading the group involves playing a CD, ringing a bell, keeping an eye on a watch and ringing the bell again, I suppose the person who shows up every single time is as worthy a candidate as any other!
And so last night, at our appointed time and place, I showed up. I played the CD, I rang the bell, I stumbled through my own attempts to place the mantra at my center, I rang the bell again, and I went home. So, too, with my life--I show up. I wake to the kids, I find my way to the shower, I empty the dishwasher, I pack lunches, I drive to work, and so on, all the while attempting to live somehow with my center firmly in place. Call her God, call her Spirit, call her Love--over and over I try to return to this space of being firmly, fully in my body, rooted in truth. Ma-ra (inhale) na-tha (exhale). Over and over, again and again. Practice, practice, practice.