Walk along your own street

Meditation can be difficult to write about, at least for me. It is somehow both beyond and underneath words, intimate in ways that defy description, the ultimate in “you had to be there.” And that’s because you are the there, you and there are all there is and divisions begin to dissolve.

I think this is both a quality which keeps us coming back to the cushion, but also can cover up some really juicy self-revelation. Just as in yoga we need some days to be sweaty stretch-fests and others to be melty indulgences in the repose we’ve created, also in meditation. Some days we we need an experience of union, dissolution of boundaries, dropping of judgment. Others, it makes sense to take a curious mind into that sparkling oneness and have a look in our suitcase.

Now, devices on the spiritual path are ladders meant to be kicked away. Sometimes a ladder is just what you need for a moment. In the device I’ve been playing with recently, after you’ve completed your preparatory practices such as moving, breathing and chanting you imagine yourself walking along a city street. Imagine the walking experience in some detail, with all senses, before diving further.

I usually find myself along a very cozy downtown street just outside where I teach. There are tables on the sidewalk across the street, shoppers, business folk and bums, the shop where I get my boots shined. I usually find that I’m quiet and contemplative and occasionally exchanging smiles with strangers.

Then, when thoughts, ideas, emotions, images tug at my sleeve, I look for where & who they are on the street. I fully acknowledge the being, looking them in the eye and nodding, and move on.

I find this has been very freeing for me and slightly changes what it means for me when ideas crop up. It also demands  I meet ideas face up, with a friendly attitude, dispense with notions about their appearance and then release both them and me to amble on our way.

If you’re new to meditation, try sitting for five minutes after your asana practice. Start with breath awareness, a few “Om”s. Then walk along your own street and see who you meet.

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