Well the festivities are over for another year. The Christmas tree, baubles and tinsel are all packed away and the Christmas lights have returned to their usual state of shambles to be painstakingly unravelled when December next rolls around.
Many of us will find ourselves returning to work whilst others will battle with the saga of kids returning to school and some may even find themselves contemplating what the New Year has in store for them. Personally, I find the New Year a little bit chaotic. You see, over the Christmas holiday period my family eased into a nice slow pace. Our time together is peppered with lazy mornings and late night swims and we are perpetually drunk on sunshine. I like to think of it as a ‘summer hibernation’.
Then, just as we’re starting to get the hang of this holiday thing reality rolls around and we’re faced with the prospect of assimilating back into our regular day by day, blow by blow lives. So, reluctantly, it’s back to work for me and hubby and back to school for our boys. I’ll be honest… returning kids to school totally stresses me out! There are new shoes and uniforms to buy, books to order and pick up and let me tell you, wrestling two teenage boys all the way to the barber shop takes some serious muscle. Its times like these where pandemonium reigns that I find myself drawn back to my meditation practice. Meditation is my way of re-membering who I am and refocusses my attention on the present not the future. Just to sit quietly on my own, in my own space, in my own time without interruption is sheer bliss. It’s just me right here and right now.
This year we are blessed to have some wonderfully wise and experienced teachers from Riverdell collectively overseeing our mediation group. These include Jewels Boland, Maggie Cope and Vicki Edwards and they have kindly shared some personal insight with me on their experiences with mediation.
“Meditation helps to calm my mind and relax my inner being” Jewels says calmly as we sit in the Karrawirra room at Riverdell. I have my pen poised ready to write down the wisdom that pours out of her. “You see” she goes on, “Meditation usually begins with three deep breaths but the good thing is, it’s portable and can be done anywhere and anytime you like. The other day I was out shopping and found myself standing in a que at the checkout. There was a very long line of people waiting and yet, only one checkout was operating. I found myself beginning to get very upset and frustrated so I made a conscious effort to calm myself down by taking three deep breaths. Well, after that, things didn’t look so bad. I have also used this same method when I go to the doctors. Before they take my blood pressure I say to the nurse….. Hang on…… and I sit quietly and take three deep breaths. I have it down to a fine art!” laughs Jewels. “You see, when we meditate the challenges become clear. They go from being a mountain to becoming a mole hill.”
“Now”, Maggie calmly adds, “When I think about my involvement in the Meditation at Riverdell I become increasing aware that I have been doing a similar practice since I was a teenager. It was in the school choir where the conductor taught us a number of breathing techniques to help us with our singing. He suggested we practice them as often as possible so I found myself focussing on my breath while walking to school and even when I sitting on the tram. I have practiced this technique ever since. Its consciously breathing in and out while focussing on the breath to the exclusion of all else. It’s so calming.”
During this conversation, Vicki Edwards sits quietly off to the side. She is observing and absorbing everything that is being shared. Respectful of the personal reflections she is witnessing. “Is there anything you would like to add?” I turn to Vicki and prompt. “I will write something” she says simply with a smile.
The following is Vicki’s reflection on meditation in her life.
‘When I was younger, my mind ruled me, ruled my heart, well yes, ruled me. Over the many years of practising meditation, I learned to focus my mind and heart, which is of course, my thoughts and feelings. Initially, there was a need for discipline. I would diligently concentrate on the tip of my nose and feel my breath move in and out. “Stay focused on the breath. If a thought comes up, let it go…they would say”. It was a mammoth ask. I was so busy trying to feel the breath and quieten the mind I’d get lost in the trying! Nowadays, I meditate regularly on my own however, it is the shared experience with others that creates an atmosphere of togetherness. By the end of the hour, we share a knowing that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Vicki Edwards.
Meditation is a personal experience that has great benefit to those that practice regularly. We are fortunate indeed at Riverdell to have in our midst three insightful, compassionate and knowledgeable teachers so why not tap into the depth of their knowledge and come along and experience meditation for yourself?