One of the challenges that I occasionally set for myself is to develop a meditation practice. I’ve made repeated efforts to become someone who meditates daily: the CDs that instead put me to sleep; the “Mindful Rest” class, whose techniques seemed even sillier in my living room than they did in class; a free weekday-evening meditation session at which more time was spent listening to the leader talk than meditating.
This ongoing, futile pursuit stems from a growing suspicion that if I spent more time in the here and now – where I am when my life is happening rather than somewhere I was or someplace I might be in the future – several things would happen.
My days would rush by less quickly, and I wouldn’t wake up on a cold and sunny Sunday morning to find that half of January – half my life – has disappeared without me noticing. I could more easily quiet my perpetually racing brain and fall back to sleep at 2:30 a.m. instead of trying in my monkey-brain way to remember that thing I absolutely have to do first thing Monday at work. I could plug some of the leaks in my 51-year-old sieve of a memory.
At some point, I made an assumption that meditation was the key that opened the door to these life-enhancing riches. But when I get right down to it, meditating seems like just one more thing to squeeze into rushed mornings, exhausted evenings, jam-packed weekends.
So now I’m trying to simply be here in the moment I’m in – not all the time, but when I happen to think about it. In the middle of mixing cold butter into the dry ingredients for a piecrust, I notice how slippery the chilly little chunks feel on my fingers as I press them against dry crumbs of brown sugar and flour. Sitting in front of a gas fireplace reading a book, I stop to notice the sensation of warmth on my face and hands as outside the window a soft snow falls lightly on a bone-chilling day.
I run the risk of getting fewer things checked off my to-do list. If I can really focus on just one thing at a time, my house may be messier – and my life will be fuller.