Wednesday, November 29, 2006
As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have a natural gift for meditation. I find it harder than many people to sit still for long, and maybe because of habits formed as a writer I find it very difficult to stop the flow of verbalized thoughts through my head.
I’m speaking of sitting meditation, which is what we Americans are taught is the standard method of meditating. A very gifted psychic who is far more enlightened spiritually than I told an audience that she simply can’t sit and meditate. She has to be moving about. She meditates while walking in her garden.
I’m convinced of the importance of meditation, but for somebody like me -- whose mother remarked that he never stood in one place for one second while getting dressed for school – an alternative to sitting is desirable.
In the line of “things I discovered without being told” was something that startled me when I looked back and realized what had happened.
At the time of this episode I was going regularly on Sunday mornings to a spiritualist “Lyceum” at Cassadaga, a few miles from where I live. I’ll have a lot more to say about Cassadaga in the future, but for now I’ll just tell you that I found the teachers and discussions very interesting -- so interesting that I was surprised when, early one Sunday, my “inner voice” (that I attribute to my benevolent Higher Self) told me to stay home and do something I’d been planning for a long time – take close-up photographs of very small wildflowers.
I resisted missing Lyceum, but I’ve learned that when the voice speaks, always obey it. And so I took my little digital Kodak and set out on a walk along a quiet Lake Helen road next to a watery swamp, where many flowers of different varieties grew. I’ve always been fascinated by extremely close views of very small things, and I was soon lost in finding and focusing on tiny blossoms.
My all purpose inexpensive camera was poorly suited to that kind of photography, and so it took a tremendous amount of patience and concentration to get a flower centered in the picture, or even in the picture, much less get a sharp focus from a few inches away. I would often have to take half a dozen shots to get one decent one.
I was so lost in what I was doing under the sunny morning sky that I lost all sense of time and place. I knew nothing but the minute details of those beautiful little blossoms, white, gold, blue, and red.
Finally the camera memory was full, and I was amazed to find that I was standing unaware in the middle of the road (which did, after all, host an occasional car), and that three hours had gone by in what I would have judged to be an hour. All that time I had been unaware of my surroundings except for the little flowers that filled my eyes and camera screen.
Only later did it dawn on me that I had been unwittingly meditating. I had been totally focused on small motionless objects that filled my consciousness, the word-stream disappeared from my head, time ceased to exist, I was entirely absorbed in Now, and I felt peace when it was over.
I think it is valid to call that a meditation, and for a long time I continued to experience the benefits.
I recall that morning as a shining peak amid the scores of days on either side of it.