This is where I get to meditate at my sister’s Therapeutic Riding Center, Healing Horse Stables, in Pesotum, Illinois. This is beside her house, with a pasture behind that contains a curious and sweet stallion named Manue. As my sister Dorey and I were wandering through the side yard, noting the spots in the long grass where deer must bed down for the night, we came across a small area paved with bricks. “This is your meditation spot!” she said, and I knew she was right.
People meditate differently, and suggest different books and approaches. For me, the most important thing is just to sit quietly, my eyes closed, for a pre-determined period of time. Today it was 20 minutes. When I meditate, I don’t try to “clear my mind,” or attain an enlightened state, or stop worrying–I don’t try to do anything. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. My mind and feelings dart around, from thought to thought. I notice that I’m thinking or feeling something, and then I take another deep breath, focusing on it. And then my mind goes again. And again I notice it moving around. But I don’t judge where my mind goes, or what I feel. I don’t try to analyze it. I come back to the breath.
For me, the key words in meditation–my informal mantra–are nonstriving and nonjudging.
And what usually happens for me? Why is it worthwhile to do this, knowing I am unlikely to attain enlightenment in those 20 minutes? Mostly: I remember that it is a whole and good thing to simply be myself, sitting quietly in the universe. I let go of the constant internal commentary that tells me I should be doing something productive. I quiet the voices that tell me my job is to solve my problems and the problems of others. The problems are there, yes. But for these 20 minutes, I give myself permission to notice them and not do anything about them.
There is so much struggle in this world. We believe everything will be better once we cleanthekitchenwalkthedoggradepaperspaybillschangethelightbulbovertheoutsidedooranswerthatemailmakemoremorey. For me, meditation is a break from this mindset. It is a peace, an acceptance, to quote my friend Nyssa Hanger, of what is.
Other things may happen for you when you meditate. Or not. They may happen every time, or just occasionally. And all of that is ok. I believe it’s worth trying, and doing even if you don’t make it a regular practice. You are worth the time it takes to center and understand yourself. You are of worth, even when you’re not actually “doing anything.”