I own a lovely meditation cushion. I have some quieting meditation CDs. And I’m a huge advocate of learning to be “in the moment.”
But with all that, I’ve got to admit. I’m not a good Om… person. So when I saw a blog post that said anything could be meditation – anything – I was off and running. (Admittedly, this is my usual state, which is part of the problem.)
“According to this, you only need three things to call it meditation,” I told my much more meditative husband. “Quiet, physical comfort and focus.”
As soon as I said it, I knew Number 3 was the problem. “Focus” was defined as giving full attention to a single thing.
A master multi-tasker, I am in awe of those who sit in one place straight-backed and silent for even five minutes.
“It’s OK to let your mind wander,” my husband says. “You just have to gently bring it back.”
That’s fine. But my mind does more than wander. It gallops off in six directions. It would take a lasso to corral all the thoughts that have bolted ahead: the red onion I forgot to buy for dinner, the dripping faucet, the washer I apparently need to fetch from the hardware store.
We are wired differently. He puts breakfast oatmeal on the stove and meditates till the 20-minute stove timer goes off. I throw dry cereal in a bowl, splash on some milk and slurp my way, bowl in hand, down the driveway to get the paper. That way, I can read while I eat what’s left.
Still, the whole meditation can be anything idea intrigues me. It fits with Thich Nhat Hanh’s suggestion that even washing the dishes is meditation so long as you are only washing the dishes. Unfortunately, the famous Buddhist goes on to say that while it may be OK to have machines to wash clothes, dishwashing machines are “going too far,” which requires that everything be washed by hand.
Forget it. The thrill of dishwashing for me is seeing how fast I can rinse and how creatively I can load.
I then thought of bike-riding as meditation can be anything. On the right trail, it’s quiet. The trike recumbent I ride is about as comfortable as sitting in a recliner flipping channels. And with all the gear-shifting required to get a recumbent up and down hills, it requires focus.
“I’m meditating!” I announced to my husband on the bike trail, who immediately observed that at the very first water stop I was checking my cell phone.
“No, you’re not,” he said.
But soon, I was in luck. We had a momentary dry spell, which inspired me to water. Anything to preserve that verdant, early summer illusion that I am a master gardener.
Hose and watering can in hand, I started to mosey – a gear I am almost never in – and to focus. I couldn’t rush in with too much water at once because then my mother would rise from the grave, tap me on the shoulder and whisper, “They don’t like to get their feet wet.”
Dressed in my oldest and baggiest, I was definitely comfortable. It was quiet, and I couldn’t do two things at once. Who, after all, wants to muddy a perfectly good cell phone?
So there you have it. Watering is the new meditation. And it is a friend with a benefit: Rain.
“Can’t let those plants get their feet wet,” I can say. “Maybe I’ll meditate tomorrow.”
2016 Copyright Pat Snyder