the mercer weave

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Archive for the tag “Meditating with Animals”

New Year, New Challenge 2014

I was gently (or not so gently) reminded this afternoon why meditation needs to be a more consistent element in my life. As I sat on my cushion, I decided to jumpstart my practice by listening to Sharon’s CD from her first book, Real Happiness. I settled in, closed my eyes and grounded myself on my cushion. I listened intently, feeling like an old friend was giving me private breathing lessons. Then…

A text message came in from one of my co-workers notifying me that an arrest had been made on a case we had worked all week. I’m ashamed to say, I looked at the text and of course, was pretty distracted.

I settled back in.

Then the Fur Mob came screaming downstairs, doing a Nascar worthy lap around me that culminated in an extended play date in my lap and on my cushion.

I kept coming back to the breath, recognizing that I will not always be lucky enough to sit in silence, that interruptions, while annoying, are often there to strengthen the practice.

The Fur Mob

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Lovingkindness is Hard

There are a few reasons I decided to investigate meditation several years ago.  For one, I felt I was sorely lacking some kind of spiritual foundation – something intangible I know, but for me it was important. The faith in which I was raised (I’m a cradle Catholic) wasn’t speaking to me. In fact, when it did, the words were not consoling or welcoming. As I wrote this, I noticed that I used the present tense to refer to ‘my Catholicism’ and that speaks volumes, I suppose. There will always be a part of me that craves the ‘smells and bells’, the ritualistic communal gathering on Sunday morning and the regimen of the liturgy. But the human element of the faith in which I was raised has (in my opinion) created obstacles too high for me to overcome.

Lovingkindness is harder the longer you put it off. I find that if I don’t include a metta practice at the end of my meditation session, I struggle to stay on task. And that struggle invades those parts of my day when I deal with difficult people. Taking the ego out of the equation is imperative. Being able to stand back and understand there is nothing personal about the interaction takes patience, equanimity and more than a passing familiarity with the power of selflessness.

But as they say, practice makes perfect. And I get a lot of practice.ht_nypd_homeless_man_jef_121129_wmain

Home is Where the Breath Is

As I stepped out into the cold and dark at 3:30 this morning to water the puppies, I looked back at our house and counted my blessings. The night light in the kitchen threw just enough warmth to cast shadows down the stairs to the living room and onto the maple floor. It’s a big house, way too much for the two of us despite our recent uptick in canines. An open design, the architect provided spaces that encourage community, from the expansive kitchen that centers the main floor to the family room that anchors the western end of the house. And from every room, I can see the Puget Sound stretching across to the Kitsap Peninsula and beyond. We place so much importance on our homes, our castles, our domains, and our defense against the ‘other.’ And yet ultimately, our real home is always with us, no matter where we are. It’s in our breath, in the beating of our heart, the softness of our eyes as they rest upon something beautiful. I learned to meditate in the Vipassana tradition, concentrating on the rising and falling of my diaphragm or the sensation of the air at the tip of my nose. When it’s broken down to such simplicity, when that is all one must focus one’s awareness on, it is genuinely a primal feeling of home.

No matter where we are, our breath is our home.

 

We Should All Be So Easily Amused

This is what I love about dogs. Well, one of the many things I love about them.  Pure, unadulterated joy. Curiosity that knows no bounds. Like children, but without the potential for purposeful heartache.

 

We should aspire to be more like these lovely souls.

Wobbly but True

Week two is settling in for me and as such, my meditation seems to be coming around, too.  I was a little worried at the beginning of the challenge because I’d been quite remiss about keeping a consistent practice and the first few days I felt like I’d just gotten back on a unicycle after many years away. I felt wobbly, off kilter, a little afraid and slightly self-conscience. But now the pups settle in on the couch next to me and our ancient, grand kitty wanders around the kitchen waiting patiently for me to finish. There is less anxiety for everyone, including me.

I have written before about meditating with animals but it really is fascinating to me how much respect they show to my practice. Whether or not they ‘know’ what I’m doing, I sense they ‘understand’ that I’m doing my best to be present for the few minutes I sit near them. The younger of two, Bella occasionally jumps in my lap and licks every finger for good measure. She then usually joins her sister Lucy on the couch, curling up in front of her older sister. Lucy rests her head on Bella’s back. They lie quietly, waiting for the timer to chime.

These are the moments that I cherish. They are not the only moments, but they are the first to grace my day. I am a very lucky woman.

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