I decided to try meditating…again. Not this kind of meditation—this thinking out loud meditation—sitting meditation, breathing meditation.
I wasn’t very good at it, but I am working at it again, because lately, life seems to require to many decisions …. and sometime I get caught up in a negative thought that I can’t let go of …. and once in a while I feel like my mind is unfocused. Do you ever feel that way?
Meditating seemed to settle my mind down and give me a little moe focus …. to appreciate just being here. I am not sure why I quit. I guess I had more important things to do.
I have learned that the simplest way to meditate is to focus on your breathing. I like to call it breathing meditation, not breath meditation, because recognizing our breathing is recognizing that we are living, that life is always motion.
Breathing is really simple too. And I think we need something really simple to work with. Here’s why—we have this problem. I think it’s the cerebral cortex, the part of our brain that is always trying to figure things out and trying to make all those hard decisions that the lower parts of our brain can’t handle.
It’s not a bad thing. It lets us do what only humans can do.
We get to have careers, read books, plan our lives.
We get to enjoy art, music, literature.
Of course we also get to think about poverty, war, and bad politics. Oh…and making decisions about finances, health problems, divorce, end of life matters…that kind of thing.
No wonder we get a little stressed. It makes me think of reptiles. Evolution gave reptiles brains that methodically helped them survive. The didn’t worry at all, as far as I know. Then came mammals with limbic systems and feelings. Then, on top of all that, humans evolved this—more or less—rational thought system…. a system that seems to need a lot more evolving before we know how to make it all work—if you ask me.
Maybe sometimes we need to go back a little. Probably not to a reptile nature, but at least to our mammal nature. In her poem, “Wild Geese,” Mary Oliver says, “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Sometime, when my mind runs in circles, I try to rest my thinking on something serene. So, sometimes imagine watching a wild animal, usually a black panther, simply resting. I see this beautiful animal lying partly on its side. Its abdomen is rising and falling with the perfect rhythm of its breath. It is very alive, yet it is at rest. It has no thoughts of the past or the future. It is simply there in its elegant animal nature.
I think our breathing is something to love. Maybe noticing—and loving—our breathing would help us—for a while—let go of all the thinking, all the constructing and reconstructing. It would help us go back to our animal nature.
The beautiful animal in me honors the beautiful animal in you.