Preparing For Relaxation; Preparing For Meditation; Daily Practice

Well, I finally got enough final layout work done for the next Horizons Magazine last night that I know it will be on time.  Actually, I’m typing this at 3:30am and I’ve just returned from a walk in my little patch of woods here.  I love being up in the wee hours and sitting in my woods at midnight.  No matter how frazzled I get doing my work, it always unwinds and relaxes me to take a walk outside and be surrounded by Nature. Of course, this is Florida in the summertime, so I treat it like stepping outdoors in any subtropical climate: insect repellent, sturdy jeans and boots.  My nights of stepping outside for a walk barefoot in my nightgown ended about the second time I was chewed up by misquitoes, got a tick and stepped in raccoon scat. 

Even when there are drought conditions, my land stays fairly hydrated because the canopies of oak, pine and palms keep 80% of my property under deep shade.  Because of this, mosquito control is an ongoing task.  Yes, I put on repellent before I walk outside, but I don’t want my woods to be a mosquito breeding ground for the neighborhood, either, so I stay on top of that.  Now it’s no big deal.  Now I know that is just part of what I deal with if I enjoy being in the outdoors.  It’s a fair trade off.

I used to walk around barefoot all the time.  I’d keep extra shoes in the car in case I ended up somewhere that I needed to wear shoes.  After the hurricanes of 2004 I had my roof replaced, and the yard was littered with hidden roofing nails.  I am still finding roofing nails in the grass five years later.  So when it became more of a hassle to walk around barefoot, keeping an eye out for landmines, than it was to just put some yard boots on, I stopped going barefoot.  For the most part.

Now I wear my old pair of Timberline hiking boots out in the yard.  I could step on a bed of nails and not feel it.  I’ll also put on a pair of coveralls or jeans if I’m going to hang outside for any time in the woods.  The palmettos have sharp teeth on their fronds and they catch my legs as I walk the trails.  I’ve torn many a nightgown before I learned to not walk the trails unless I was dressed for it.

But, Andrea, that sounds like such a hassle: put insect repellent on, sunscreen if it’s daytime, yard boots, long pants, just to go take a walk in my own woods on my own property?   To me, that is preferable to scratching mosquito bites for 3 days or healing slashes in my legs from the palmettos.  I’m like a kid.  I like to crash around in the woods and not worry about am I going to get bit or cut or whatever, so I just prepare for it, then it never becomes an issue.

It’s like that for me for meditation, also.  I know that if I prepare myself ahead of time for it, I will have the expanded experience of it.  I come to the mat wearing comfortable clothes and hair out of my way, so I don’t need to fidget with it during my hour. I come to the mat with the intention that I will release any thoughts that come to my mind, as they come.  I keep a pen and paper next to me for those ideas that cannot wait, but I do not get caught up in writing commentary.  This is my meditation time, and this is where I listen.

It may feel that nothing is happening, but I know differently.  I know that all I need to do is put my time in, keep my mind clear for that hour.  To me, an experienced meditator since 1970, “keeping my mind clear” typically means releasing thought about every other second or so.  Smile.  That’s normal, so don’t think you’re slacking.

And don’t think it’s not working if you’re not having all those fancy visions everyone else says they have, and that all the authors write about.  Not all of them have them either, they just have some idea in their mind of what it is supposed to be, what is supposed to be happening, then they create it if it doesn’t happen on its own.  Doing that will only keep it from happening.  This is not a fake it til you make it situation. This is not a DO situation at all.  This is a sit and get quiet and breathe and release thought situation.

And it’s not easy and it takes a lot of repetition to train your mind to do it.  That’s why it’s called practice, daily practice.  But it is so worth it relative to what is gained by it.  And there is no describing it to someone who does not do it.  There is no way to describe the expansion you set in motion and the expansion you experience by sitting each day at an appointed hour and putting in your time.

But being prepared for it is a good first step.

Related Posts:
Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response is the Transcendental Meditation technique minus the ritual

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