Baby Boomers will likely remember when the Beatles met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and subsequently became involved in Transcendental Medication. It was 1967. I was 13, going on 14, and had been one of those kids who watched the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show and my life was never the same. I purchased every one of their albums up to and until Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The music took a turn that made my 13-year-old self a bit uncomfortable. I listened to more Top 40 songs, like Happy Together by the Turtles and Carrie Anne by the Hollies.
I’m not reluctant to tell you now that in hindsight, a few of the songs on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are absolute classics that I really love. Furthermore, I got back on the Beatle bandwagon and purchased (and loved) the White Album in 1968.
But being a straight-laced Catholic schoolgirl, I was wary of the whole Transcendental Meditation thing. I knew people who practiced meditation, and they neither got struck down by God nor embraced by the devil. But I just continued to pray in the more traditional way.
In hindsight, my reluctance was probably at least in part because I couldn’t imagine sitting still and focusing on a single word for 20 minutes twice a day. Yoiks. I hurried through my daily prayers as it was. But I was intrigued nonetheless.
A few years later, the adult Kris learned that the Catholic Church had (and still has) something called centering prayer. Centering prayer is basically meditation in which your focus is a relationship with God. I’m not going to try and explain it, because the truth is, though I took a class and read some books on centering prayer, it never really worked for me. Because see above. I can’t focus on anything for 20 minutes. I tried. I selected my meditation word and tried sitting quietly, focusing on that word, waiting for God to talk to me. I’m sure he tried, but I wasn’t hearing him, because my mind would wander. I would be concentrating on my word, and then a work issue would creep into my thoughts. I would push that thought away and focus once again. Pretty soon, I was planning what to make for dinner. It felt like my efforts were futile.
I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is a devout Catholic and yet seriously into centering prayer. She told me a wandering mind is very common in meditation. When your mind begins to wander, don’t get mad at yourself, she told me; just come back and refocus on your meditation word.
I gave up, and haven’t thought much about meditation since that time. But an online publication I get from my retirement association called The Dime had an article recently on something called Mindfulness. It’s the art of being rooted in the moment. It apparently is modeled after meditation, but just as I was about to delete the article (because meditation and me don’t play well together) I saw that the idea of Mindfulness is more about being in the moment than actual meditation. There is no need to sit in a yoga position and say ommmmm to simply live a moment at a time and notice the things around you.
I have been working on the notion of being in the moment a bit since reading that article, partly because it is consistent with the message of a bible study DVD that I recently watched from one of my favorite bloggers. But it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. I am one of those people who can drive from Point A to Point C and realize suddenly that I missed all of Point B along the way. I think, however, that Christmastime is a good time to really focus on this notion of Mindfulness. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the shopping and the wanting and needing and the desire to make one’s house perfect and ensure that every one of the grandkids is thrilled with their gifts, all the while making Christmas cookies and entertaining the neighbors.
One suggestion was to try to find five new things about your spouse or roommate. I’m working on it, but it’s a real challenge. You learn a lot about your spouse after 25 years of marriage…..
One thing I learned about myself as I wrote this post is that it’s really hard to type meditation instead of medication. Another sign of growing old, perhaps.
This post linked to the GRAND Social