Earlier this week I sat on the dock at my brother’s lake house, determined to clear my head of the chatter that’s been rattling around in there for the past two weeks. I was going to meditate; I was going deep inside myself to my center.
I got into a comfortable position and stretched for a few seconds. Then I concentrated on my breathing: four counts in, six counts out. I succeeded a few times, and then a schedule conflict popped into my head.
But I was prepared for this! I had a pen and notebook at my side to write down any important thoughts that intruded on my quiet time. With the conflict successfully recorded on paper, I was free to put it out of my mind and go back to my breathing.
Four counts in, six counts out. Again, I was successful for a few cycles, but then I got concerned about the coffee pot inside. Had I turned it off? This was my brother’s house and I didn’t want to burn it down. After careful consideration, I decided there was still enough liquid in the pot that it wouldn’t catch fire before I was done meditating. Good. Back to work.
Hmm… it wasn’t supposed to be work. I decided to try a different technique. I held one nostril closed and breathed out through the other for a minute or so, then reversed the process. This is going better, I thought. Unfortunately, I also thought about the grocery list.
This breathing-versus-thinking battle went on for about 15 minutes till I finally gave up. I grabbed the pen and paper and started writing things down: the grocery list, the vacation schedule, a thank you note. My brain was dumping stuff onto the paper like crazy.
Then something caught my eye at the edge of the dock. A little family of geese was floating only a few feet away from me. I watched with awe as they flapped and bathed and dove for fish. The mother was loud and bossy but the little ones were playful. Fascinated by their morning ritual, I watched as they floated on the waves and then gradually drifted off in another direction. The water sparkled and I could see wave after wave roll onto the sandy shore. A fish jumped and I watched the splash circles spread wider and wider in the water. Two dragonflies twirled around me, glinting in the bright sunshine. A butterfly landed briefly on the edge of the dock, then darted off. Before I knew it an hour had gone by and I felt more clearheaded and calm that I had in weeks.
That was when I realized I had been meditating after all. I was just meditating on geese and not my breathing. Concentrating on their activity pushed everything else out of my thoughts and I was able to see the scenery around the dock. So what’s the moral of the story?
I am a firm believer in the old adage God gives you what you need when you need it. I didn’t really need to go deeper inside myself that day. I needed to get outside myself, outside of my noise-filled, over-loaded, scatter-brained, mourning-prone self and into the beautiful world that surrounds me. And I think I’d feel better if I did that a whole lot more often. So, now that I’m home, I’m planning to sit on the deck at sunset tonight and watch what happens. How about you – care to try it, too?