I woke up this morning in the wee hours with my mind racing (Buddhists would call this a monkey mind) in plans on how to furnish the house my husband and I are buying. Where would I put the couch, the occasional tables, the lamps? Would we be able to get the bed up the stairs? Where could I place my pots and plant my flowers?
It is very exciting. Yet I don’t want to spend my time in planning ahead and speculating. Much more important to be here now, present to the moment, else the experience of life is lost in a sea of vague unformed ideas that might never come to pass.
Jesus remained rooted in the present moments of his life, healing others, teaching, laughing with his friends, suffering with his friends, praying on mountaintops. He did not waste his time worrying about what was to come nor what had been other than to recognize how the past (Torah) informs the present, and the present (how we think and act) informs the future.
Allowing our minds to wander takes us out of the center of our being. We often lose ourselves in past moments that are gone or are galloping ahead into moments that may never come.
We must train our minds so that we might direct them in right-thinking, rather than become a victim of a particular thought, lost in the past or carried away into a frenzy.
Thoughts, Eknath Easwaran tells us, are like balls being bashed around in a game of tennis. Everyone knows it takes practice and skill to play tennis successfully, lobbing the ball within the bounds of the court. It is the same with our thoughts–we practice meditation so that we might become aware of where the thoughts fly in order to direct them wisely.
So, in the middle of the night, I first prayed for God to help me calm down and then I began to meditate, paying attention to my breath.
When I inhaled, I noticed the passage of air through my nostrils, and I thought Being Now.
When I exhaled, I thought Now.
I became aware of the warmth of my body, the feel of the clean sheets, my husband next to me sleeping deeply. I enjoyed the feel of the fan blowing air down onto us. I rejoiced for the health of my body at this time. Slowly I drifted back to sleep.
I awoke refreshed and grateful for the day ahead, wondering what it might bring, excited at the possibilities, but grounded in reality, aware that no matter if there is pleasure or no pleasure, excitement or routine chores, when I attend deeply, all is well, and I am rooted in an eternal and everlasting flow.