the teeming underbelly of the South Dakota prairie
Friday, August 11, 2017
...but I don't HAVE 20 minutes.
I did something this year, my 61st year,
that I’d been mouthing off about for a decade or more now—I got my first
tattoo. It’s a lotus flower (the mantra ohm mane padme hum translates loosely
as “the jewel [true nature of reality] is in the lotus [mind]), sitting on top
of the word satchitananda in Sanskrit, which means truth (sat),
consciousness/awareness (chit), bliss (ananda).
Ray’s not a tat fan, but for
me, the ink was a way to take possession and ownership of my own body
and personhood, apart from my roles: wife, mother, daughter, teacher, etc.
Also, the design itself is a necessary and permanent
reminder for me always to return to what’s
true. Meditation—the actual subject of this convoluted post—is one way to
Not everyone knows this about me, but I’m pretty
tightly wound, not a person who’s good at relaxing. I’m a lot like my two three-year-old granddaughters, who NEVER
STOP MOVING. Some part of them (and of me) is perpetually shifting, tapping
out a beat, or twitching. That's a LOT of kinetic energy, a LOT of energy down the proverbial drain. So for me, meditation isn’t really about
enlightenment—it’s about survival.
Most people know by now that meditation, especially
mindfulness meditation, which is the kind I practice, isn’t contemplating one’s
navel (and by “practice,” I mean like piano lessons: you do it when your mom
makes you, but you’re 13 and you’d rather cut out with your crew to the pool). Meditation
is simply slowing down long enough to be AWARE of the present moment, then
staying in that awareness as long as you can. I’ve heard it said that living in
the past causes regret, living in the future causes anxiety and fear, and only
living in the present can bring peace. For me, this rings a big, fat truthiness