The Space Between
One of my co-workers turned me onto the the 21 Day Meditation Challenge hosted by the very Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. Sitting at the precipice of this journey into Hippie-hood, I decided now was the time. My mind has always been one to veer into a thousand directions simultaneously. To explain the chaos, I am one of those people with several web browsers open all at once, 9 to be exact right now. And that makes for a slow day! Suffice it to say, I experience issues allowing myself to turn off the engine…as it would seem I am always sitting in idle. I know I’m not the only one. I do some of my best thinking in the shower or right before I am ready to visit the Sandman. I’m not quite sure how Captain Awesome does it, but within seconds he’s off to la la land and I lie there envious of the softly snoring sounds emanating from both him and the dog.
Quieting the mind is truly a learned art. And like anything, practice makes perfect. They say it takes 10,000 hours doing anything before you can become skilled at that practice. So as I sit here and type away my experience, by no means would I say I have mastered this practice. But perhaps that’s why meditation itself is a practice.
The daily challenge comprised of 20 minutes, roughly. Oprah shared a quick anecdote pertaining to the message of the day before Deepak spoke, discussing this message more in detail, preparing us for our centering thought and repeating the sanskrit mantra as an introduction to our meditation. The overall theme to this challenge focused on our awareness of time and of being truly present in the here and now. Naturally, and with complete irony, my first several days, or attempts if you will, displayed a complete lack of control as my mind flitted around worrying about work, thinking about x, y and z…all while repeating the mantra. It was a mess! I find it utterly amazing how one can continue to chant on autopilot while the brain takes all thoughts and concerns out on a roller coaster ride. I caught myself clock watching on these first few days. I’m not gonna lie!
True to the challenge, I kept at it, reminding myself as Deepak says every day, and I paraphrase, should you find your mind wandering due to thoughts, noises or external/physical distractions, simply return to repeating the mantra. And so that’s what I did. Without guilt. Without shame. Without judgement.
About 15 days into this practice, a friend sent me an example of The Solar Meditation, which I began incorporating into my practice. That’s when everything began to noticeably change. When I closed my eyes, the concept of time began to diminish. After all, time is merely something we’ve created to describe the passing of each day. We are slaves to it, to our to-do list, our goals, to the passing second hand as it nears our next meeting. We complain there is never enough of it and then flush it away on meaningless activities. And worse, rarely do we ever truly exist in the now, which is the only true moment that actually exists.
But in this moment, time was replaced by light and color, flickering in inconsistent and bold patterns. The direction of the window wasn’t necessarily the same direction from which the light appeared behind closed eyelids. With the light came warmth…and love. Quite awe-inspiring, I found myself smiling at such beauty and thankful for the gift of the present. For the awareness and recognition that I am a part of something much greater than myself. And with this revelation, the chair I was sitting in cross-legged, began to turn towards the light, the window. Surprised, I quickly opened my eyes to see if the feeling was accurate and found myself, exactly as before, facing the same direction as when I started. Perplexed, I closed my eyes again, returned to the meditation and began to feel the same shift and pull to the window, towards the light.
This has occurred every time in my practice since that day. I try not to question it; instead fully accept the warm and brilliant embrace.
I have found that taking those quiet moments, the space between the unstoppable chatter of my mind and the silence of sleep, helps me re-center, re-charge and reset. What a beautiful place to just be.
Behind the Scenes of The Space Between
This was one of those unexpected places; traveling East out toward the plains, with not much in sight but small towns sprinkling the horizon. Then you take a right and a left on to a dirt road and park in a small lot that can only accommodate some 20 cars. The Earth gives way to sprawling trails down to a feast for the eyes of pinks, purples and oranges. The Native Americans used this land to bring color to their pottery some 9,000 years ago. It’s easy to see why.
I wonder what this place looks like covered in snow. It was a bit surreal to say the least. Mystical and other-worldly.
Thank you again, Cara, for modeling for me 5 years after that amazing summer in Montana. For also owning shareable Nikon equipment! :-) And for such crazy requests in a public setting. Until next time.