Specific tactics and strategies did not accompany my resolution to meditate. Similarly, I did not set personal deadlines or map out planned topics for blogging. I allowed both meditating and blog writing to be open-ended, freely flowing wherever it so inclined to eliminate anything that reeked of the unnatural and contrived.
Here, I give you three prominent thoughts and reflections that materialized from my close-eyed, lotus-legged sessions.
1. Naturally, when I set forth to dive deeper into the workings of the mind, I first shifted my thoughts to the past and how meditation has played a role in my life thus far. First, as I read through books about meditation, I began to draw parallels to prayer, especially with the Catholic rosary, a form of repetitive praying with beads that combines visualization, thanksgiving, sending love, petitioning for needs, and adoring a higher being, all elements of meditation. I noticed through my reading that meditation is often associated with Buddhism or Eastern religions and hardly ever, or dare I say never, ever with Catholicism. Yet the depth of meditation that I reach via the recitation of the rosary, particularly in my head during long runs through the woods, is the essence of what drew me to this seemingly traditional religion in the first place. So, in 2014, my resolution to meditate has simultaneously, and unexpectedly, rekindled my love of the rosary and drawn me back to Sunday mass.
2. As I mentioned above, when I used to pray the rosary, it was most often during long runs through the woods. In my dual interest of combining meditation with running and coping with plantar fasciitis and a heel spur, I read Danny Dreyer’s ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-free Running, which demonstrates how to make running a mindful, peaceful, relaxing practice, all outcomes of meditation, and all useful mindsets to access when dealing with an injury! Dreyer’s ChiRunning techniques have encouraged me to seek a meditative runner’s mind, which at its peak can be described as the oft-sought-after runner’s high. What’s more, the body-mechanics and physiologically focused running techniques of ChiRunning has helped me experience gradually more and more pain-free runs, even with a heel spur! It goes to show that when one puts all the energy of the mind into something (in my case, eliminating a heel spur with extreme attention to physical and mental running form), amazing results can occur!
3. Clearly, running is not the only endeavor to which a meditative mind can be applied. Such a mindset can exist through myriad other activities, daily tasks, recreational pursuits, and lifelong commitments, one being the all-important duty of child rearing. Lastly, we have come to the most profound impact that my resolution has had on my life, and, consequently, those around me. In my own effort to meditate, I hope that Avie, my 14-month-old baby boy, acquires such a desire and devotion.
Thus, the pinnacle of what I have discovered so far in my 2014 meditation resolution is this: Everything we know about mediation, we can learn from a newborn. Babies are born as non-judging, non-dualistic beings. They observe and cognitively gather information without placing a definitive critique or analysis of said information. They experience true bliss. They love unconditionally. They are truly pure souls. We seek all these ways of being through meditation – they are the embodiment of an infant and the quintessential outcome of a consistent, daily meditation practice. As I spend my days in the company of my baby, I not only learn whom he is, I learn more about myself. I see that he is my true inspiration.
For Avie's birthday, Eric and I put together a time capsule, which he'll open at age 18. Eric and I each composed a letter to his 18-year-old self. My letter was 12 pages long (for some reason no one at the birthday party expressed enthusiasm when I announced that I wanted to read it aloud, especially my good friend Mandy – ha!). Anyway, in the letter I tell Avie lots of things. The most sage of words that I leave him with are these: that I hope, in his 18 years of life, that his father and I have shown him, through our actions and words, how to be a good-hearted, kind, caring, open, compassionate, and unconditionally loving soul, and that he has the courage to sustain these virtues in the face of a society that all too often seems to revere gossip, criticism, teasing, road-rage, self-pity, snarky comments, nay saying and other morally degrading acts or negative words.
In regard to meditation, it is through our focused, intentional minds that we can strive toward a more pure and positive self, like that of a newborn. Then, all aspects of our lives, whether it's our running, our yoga practice, how we eat, how we raise our children, or how we interact with others, can become more thoughtful, more loving, more compassionate, and more accepting. May the 2014 meditation resolution keep going strong, not just for myself, but for my family, Avie and Eric. Here's to a lifetime of keeping meditation in mind!