This morning I heard the school bus go by for the first time in months. I was in bed, slowly awakening from a less-than-restful night's sleep, and after hearing the bus roar up the hill, I thought to myself, "Time for me to get back to school, too."
Though the school I had in mind for myself was not a traditional one, a building with walls and windows, but the landscape of my heart. A space of potential quiet, characterized by inner exploration and discovery. For me, school is a purple, buckwheat-filled, meditation cushion.
It's been a busy, loosey-goosey summer here. My husband "semi-retired" in early July so he is home with me now much of the time. Home is where I work and practice. It's been wonderful to spend early mornings together, sipping coffee, enjoying the quiet having gentle conversation, but I've missed my "practice"—a more formal time of being alone with myself and All-That-Is.
So, this morning, I dusted off my meditation cushion and sat. It was difficult, to say the least. My thoughts behaved like untamed horses. After a few moments of inner struggle, I chose to listen to a recording of crystal bowl playing to help me crawl back to center.
I enjoyed my process, though I wouldn't say that the practice itself was great. But then, that's what a meditation practice is all about: noticing when you want to label it, judge it (and yourself), especially when it feels less than idyllic.
This is good for me. Meditation is one of the kindest, most compassionate things I can do for myself because it allows me to meet myself where I am with gentleness. My "best" meditation practice is when I am aware enough of whatever I encounter within myself to be quite alright with all of it. Even thoughts that behave like wild horses have their own interesting cadence and insights.
Just before I meditated, I was reading from Ram Dass' book, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart. Synchronistically, I'd left off with the chapter on spiritual practice. This passage in particular spoke to my heart:
"It's delicate, because you have to practice from the place of really remembering why you're doing it, with some joy and appreciation. If you go into it with, "Oh, I gotta do my practice," the practice will eventually clear that resistance out of you, but I don't necessarily feel that's a good thing. That's what happens to people when they have to go to church every Sunday. I would rather push you away from spiritual practices until you're so hungry for them that you really want to do a practice, rather than give you a sense that you ought to do the practice or that you're a bad person if you don't do it, because you will end up hating the whole business. In the long run, I don't think it will be good for you. Spiritual practice is wonderful if you want to do it. And if you don't, don't."
This morning I woke up hungry. And grateful. Grateful that I knew of a way to sate the spiritual hunger I was feeling. Pull the purple cushion out of the closet, de-lint it and sit down. To me, doing so felt much like it used to when I'd climb aboard the big yellow bus as a kid on the first day of school.
Today, may you welcome yourself home in similar fashion doing whatever works, using whatever practice gets you back to you. We begin again. It's back-to-school time, back-to-self time. May you enjoy the ride.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.