I was recently introduced to a wonderful meditation technique. To try it, find 5 quiet minutes someplace. Anyplace. Sit with your eyes closed. Settle into your breathing. Begin to focus on something or someone that you really care about. Let images and feelings wash through you and over you. What do you care most about in all the world? Who do you care most about? (It could be you!) Focus on that for 5 minutes. Let it take whatever shape it wants to take. Notice how you feel when you are done.
Many people feel as though their minds are too active to meditate. And though it takes effort, the truth is, we are all capable of focusing our minds. When we were very young, this ability came naturally. The trick is to find a focus that anchors you in such a way that you remain engaged even when the ordinary mind goes wandering off all over the place. The simple act of returning over and over to our focus generates an awareness of ourselves and how our minds operate. And that awareness is what changes our inner and outer worlds. Can you imagine a moment in time when the whole world focused not on what it was afraid of or wanted to condemn or control, but on what mattered most to all of us? That would be heaven on earth.
These are interesting times. Like it or not, this world we have inherited is created anew each day by all of us. And not just by the bad guys and the saints. How is this done? Through our thoughts, beliefs and actions which amount to the stories we create, live and share. These are burning times. Times filled with greed, hatred and violence. And these things are not only out there, they are in here as well.
I just spent a week away on retreat and in training. It was like boot camp for my mind and kid’s summer camp for my body. Over the course of a week, I followed fears, judgments and the smallness of my conditioned mind while maintaining a strict regimen of focus on what it is I truly desire: loving connection. I watched story after story unfold, ones that have been driving me and torturing me my whole life. And I kept moving. I kept dancing. And when I was able to claim all that I was bringing to the world, only then was I able to truly appreciate and connect with those around me. It was hard work and it was heaven on earth.
Yogi Bhajan, the famous head of Kundalini Yoga here in the West once said, “One-third of us are dying, one-third of us are going crazy and one-third of us have our boots and backpacks on.” For me, boots and backpacks on means you have determined yourself to be a spiritual warrior and you recognize that the battle is within yourself. Always. No more fixing or condemning anyone or anything. No more projecting fears.There is no work to be done out there, only in here.
I am confused as to how my son’s friend knows that his mother is here to pick him up. This gets cleared up for me when I am told that his mother texted him to say she was out in our driveway. I sift through this one for days. The place I keep returning to could be labelled, “lost opportunities;” ones that are both obvious and subtle, specific and general, personal and communal. Here are a few: She and I miss out on getting to know one another a bit more. Our boys miss out on seeing their connection extend into the generation ahead of them. This mom misses out on the possibility of breaking bread with us in the form of the delicious home-made cinnamon rolls my husband has just made. It was a beautiful Sunday morning here that would have been made even more beautiful with some unexpected company. And so, the very real and, these days ignored, impromptu opportunity to commune, with all of its unexpected gifts, has been lost. Are we noticing this? Do we even care?
While the phrase, “It takes a village” has been appropriated and misused for personal and political gain, it stands true nontheless that our children need a community of support in their lives that extends beyond their immediate family; an invisible web that surrounds and protects them beyond the reach of our homes. They require a level of physical, emotional and spiritual holding that far exceeds the limited domain of their family of origin. In plain language, we all need to be looking out for each other’s kids. And one of the best ways to do this is to get to know one another. We used to know this. More than that, we used to live this. And we did not need reminders, catchy slogans or PSA announcements. We knew that our children could not be adequately held and protected without the support of those around us. And we, as parents knew that we needed each other. What’s changed?