I just finished the major classroom portion of my graduate school education. Living that experience through a worldwide pandemic, natural disasters, mass shootings, continued racial injustice and systemic oppression, a highly contentious presidential election, a political insurrection, and a massive arctic freeze was highly stress filled. It was lived mostly without the physical presence of others – except on my screens – and was emotionally exhausting, overwhelming, chaotic, sad, mentally draining, and spiritually taxing. Often times it made me angry as hell. Still, through it all, I made it – and you did too. So many others didn’t, however; I mourn those losses and celebrate their lives.
In processing how I pushed through the past two years, I think one of the saving graces I experienced was the ability to shut everything off and ground in the present through meditation. When I first started meditating many years ago, I was worried I wasn’t doing it right. My mind raced. I wondered if my posture was correct. Should I use any tools like incense, candles, music, or guidance? Should I sit on the floor, on a cushion on a chair, inside or outside, or maybe upside down with pinwheels taped to my feet? How many passages of others thoughts on the world should I read before and after. I made such a big deal of it. I wanted to do it right. And then I realized none of that shit mattered. I mean, after all, this dog I happened upon at Top Drawer Thrift in Austin, TX is doing it… although a bit formal, so I can too. All that mattered was closing my eyes and focusing on my breath. My breath is all that matters in meditation. It’s as close to the here and now one can get. And it’s powerful. It’s powerful to realize this moment truly is all we have. When we focus just on that one moment of survival, of living, we take the power away from the past and the future. We rejuvenate our body, mind, and spirit through that simple moment of grounding and we are able to push through to the next moment, and the next. And when worries of the past or future cross my mind, I just acknowledge them, say thanks, and think, sometimes even whisper, “not now.”
What pulled you through the past two years? What holds you back? What’s one thing you can do to impart just a small bit of healing today?
And yes, the dog came home with me. Best $3 I ever spent.
Let the breath lead the way.Sharon Salzberg