Why Do I Meditate?


I’m at my desk reading the Goethe quote on my coffee mug: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” I feel the truth of this deeply, but wonder if I really understand it or can express it adequately. I want to try.

I close my eyes to feel the life in my body and follow my breath. Tiny tinglings everywhere…chest and belly rising and falling…the air conditioner fan whirring away to my left, an airplane humming overhead…the solid floor beneath my feet…the warmth of my clasped hands…the softness of my velvet robe.

I open my eyes and look out the window at the stand of bald cypress with their knotty brown trunks and newly green foliage. I watch the soft sway of their gray Spanish moss beards. I wait…for what I don’t know. I smile. It’s a relief not to need to know. A love bug lands on the window at eye level. No, wait; it’s two love bugs! My smile expands. My heart seems to expand too. I’m enjoying this tiny reminder of love. Fluttering leaves sparkle. Some show their paler sides; others are a deeper green. A dragonfly flits by. Cottony clouds with dove gray undersides sink slowly below the cypress canopy.

I rise and step outside to see if the great blue heron is still fishing across the creek. S/he’s gone, but a pair of black-feathered, yellow-legged, red-billed birds (young coots?) fly past, then abruptly make a U-turn and hurry back in the opposite direction.

I remember the brilliant cardinal that kept dropping by one day last week to peck at the picture window, either flirting with his image or trying to pass through the sky’s reflection. I Googled the symbolism of cardinals and found this: [The cardinal] “reminds us to hold ourselves with pride – not ego pride. Rather, the cardinal asks us to stand a little taller, be a bit more regal, step into our natural confidence as if we were born to lead with grace and nobility.” Good advice. But that was a few days ago. I return to this moment.

Caroline Myss
Caroline Myss

Other random thoughts intrude and I invite them to pass on so I can stay present. I realize I’m hoping to close these musings with some sort of sign or synchronicity I can share to prove how rewarding just appreciating this day can be! But nothing is showing up and I’m running out of writing space.

Wait. Something is showing up. (As I write these words a cardinal darts by…is it my cardinal?… but that isn’t what I mean.) What shows up after I’ve written the previous paragraph is an awareness of my ego’s influence over my thoughts and writing. My ego wants a sign it can use to be impressive, but my soul just wants to be! And just as I was thinking this the cardinal passed by. I guess I did receive a sign after all: ego pride!  I smile and let it be. Self-knowledge is healing but self-criticism erodes my confidence and robs me of this moment. Simply being aware of everything, including my baser tendencies, is the true value of this day.

Why do I meditate? Because it slows down my monkey mind and makes me more mindful of my body. Because when I’m mindful of my body, I experience this fleeting miracle of being.  Because experiencing the miracle of being—being alive, being me, having this body, this day, this comfortable place to live, my health, people who love me—fills me with love and gratitude. And when I remember love and gratitude, I remember to choose love more often that day, no matter what’s happening in my outer world. For me, that’s reason enough.

Photo Credits:  Google Images

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0 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie. Your article is a beautiful, and finely written meditation upon the nature of the soul. My eyes smiled as they swept along, in the simple beauty of the moment, while listening to the wonderful morning chorus of the birds in my garden. I smile as I watch a robin, the only poet in residence, flitting along the back of potted plants. In the background I listen to the soft humming of my heating system. I notice my hands and am struck by their lightness, and how weight has flowed to my knees. Outside the window, I look over to the Hawthorn bushes and their spring-bloom, deep white flowers.
    Thank you so much for reminding me to stop, listen, and inhale the beauty and richness of the present moment. I’m off to the swimming pool now, and will attempt to stretch out this fleeting miracle of being, a moment or two longer. Knowing I can return, makes my heart smile widely. Bright spring blessings, Deborah.
    “Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” Paramahansa Yogananda

    1. Dear Deborah. You have such a lovely (shall I say poetic?) way of expressing your awareness of yourself and what’s going on around you: “My eyes smiled.” “…soft humming of my heating system.” “…spring-bloom, deep white flowers.” Simple things which so often pass unnoticed.
      It takes a very mindful, meditative state to see like this. I expect this must come more naturally to poets than most, but we can all use a reminder now and then. A glimpse of beauty can do that for me, but these days I’ve noticed that my reminders often also come from some sort of inner discordance, like a feeling of frustration or annoyance or anxiety or restlessness that tugs at my awareness until I notice it.
      I’ve recently realized I’m a harmony junkie, and only now in writing this does it occur to me to associate this powerful psychological need of mine with my passion for musical harmony. A stretch? Who knows. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
      And now I’m reminded of this piece by William Congreve (FromThe Mourning Bride, 1697)
      Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
      To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
      I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
      And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
      By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
      What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
      Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
      ‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
      Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
      The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King;
      He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg’d
      Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
      Why am not I at Peace?
      “Why am I not at Peace?” An excellent question to motivate meditation!
      Thank you for you beautiful quote. It fits you. Your words have a way of scattering rich smiles. Jeanie

  2. I love it when you write like this. My own ego pride wishing to be there, part of it , my own unfiltered consciousness reminding me I am HERE and part of it. I feel as I get older I can BE easier, let thoughts go and drift through the moment.
    What I need to tell you Jeanie , is that over the past four years you have made a difference. You are a pleasure, a consolation, and a torch to light the way. I can’t thank you enough for what you give of yourself . Thank you.

    1. Dear Brian,
      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
      Having two accomplished poets as friends can make a writer very self-conscious. But now that I’ve made the above response to Deborah’s comment, I have to say it: your words are—forgive my lack of originality, but it’s so apt— “music to my ears.” 🙂
      What I need to tell you, Brian, is that ever since I’ve know you, (has it really been four years?) you have been a beautiful and very meaningful gift to me. You’re always HERE, there, with your gentle affirmations that soothe and warm my soul. It’s very good, indeed, to receive genuine appreciation for my efforts. It is for you and people like you that I’ve been writing this blog for six years (as of March 10) and hope to continue for a long time.
      Thank you.

  3. Thank you Jeanie very much and I echo what Brian says – and to add, you make the difference because you ARE the difference. I felt in a meditative state reading your words and your acknowledgement of the cardinal coming by because you wanted a sign is, in my view, not necessarily ego-pride. It’s (in my view) a support of the universe … But I think I know what you mean – I ask sometimes for a ‘sign’ and when I get it I also smile and say thank you and let it pass!
    Yes, every moment can be a meditation if we allow the monkey mind/ego to take a back seat.
    Reading Deborah’s response brought a feeling, a weight, to my own knees as I write! And I echo her thanks to you for reminding us to stop watch listen be silent (silent has the same letters as listen) and to remember love and gratitude irrespective of how things may be. Thank you again, muchly 🙂

    1. Thank you, Susan. Your words warm my heart. And I appreciate your view of the cardinal coming by. Synchronistically, I read your comment when I first awoke, then when I went downstairs for breakfast I looked out the kitchen window and there was a beautiful male cardinal at the bird feeder. Seriously. I can’t help but find pleasure and meaning in this. Yes, it’s exactly that: “a support of the universe.”
      “Silent has the same letters as listen.” I never noticed that, but love it. Very cool.
      Here’s to being silent and listening.

  4. Hi Jean, thanks for sharing your thoughts on meditation. I like to meditate as well and even sometimes do that in lucid dreams, which really has a profound effect on my happiness and feeling of well being. I interviewed Catherine Wikholm for Mindfunda who did some scientific about the effect of meditation on prisoners and wrote “The Buddha Pill” about it: http://mindfunda.com/meditation/ Catherine, the spitting image of Kate Bush, was asked by cowriter Miguel Farias if theer was any real scietific reserach about the positive effects of meditation. They searched through a lot of books but found little evidence. Than they decided to do a reserach of their own with inmates in prison. It was a very interesting and powerful book to read, because it showed that meditation not only has positvie benifits but can have a dark downside as well (even though people really dislike to hear about it). But to end on a positive note: I really intuitivly believe that meditating and visualizing increases your ability to dream and that dreaming is a creative way of finding new solutions to old problems.

    1. Thank you for providing these resources, Susanne. I know there’s also some research being done in the area of meditation and brain plasticity. Fascinating stuff. I hadn’t thought about meditation increasing one’s ability to dream….but have most definitely found for myself that dreaming helps me find creative new solutions to old problems. The very fact that my dreams often contain puzzling images which, at first, seem to have no bearing whatsoever on my waking life, causes me to pay more attention to them and stretch my imagination until I discover a new way of thinking about problems.

  5. The photo of the cardinal reminds me of my insistent mind pecking away at silence–what you call monkey mind. I love the way you’ve taken me with you into the process of letting go, having nothing on the agenda, opening to the moment in peace. My dreams make it clear I need more of this deep rest in the Divine Feminine. My Soul wants time to just be while my ego asks, “Can I write about that or learn something new from it? Should I take notes?” Thank you for a lovely post about the gentle power of meditation. I look forward to sharing it on my author page.

    1. Thank you, Elaine. Yes, that cardinal appears to be very intense and persistent….like some of my ego’s more uncomfortable thoughts! I’m glad to know you enjoyed being taken into the process of letting go. Of course, you are a meditator who knows this process well, but It seemed to me that it might be helpful to non-meditators if I could describe how it looks and feels: how our thoughts can intrude whether we’re trying to meditate or just relax, how we can notice them and consciously let them go, what it feels like to pay attention to our bodies, and what the benefits are. And of course, even some of us who meditate can use a reminder now and then. It’s very kind of you to share this.

  6. Yes, Jean, it is the “trying” to understand that I find crucial. Thank you! For me the symbol of that”trying” is Jacob’s struggle with …what? An angel? God? His conscience? The spirit of Esau? After all these years, I’m still “trying” to understand his struggle … And my own. Your reflection helps me take another small step, and I am grateful.

    1. Thank you, Stephen. I agree that the deep intention, the wanting, the self-questioning, the ongoing desire to understand and be aware, to see and take responsibility for our own “stuff”…. this is the crucial factor in this inward journey. I, too, have found the image of Jacob wrestling with the angel helpful when facing my inner conflicts, of which there have been many and continue to be.
      I see that struggle as representing the human ego’s (Jacob) struggle to be more conscious of Spirit (angel) which the ego, in its immature unknowing, is both attracted to and repelled by. We want loving union with the Great Mystery, yet, at the same time we want our own way, and this shadow side of ourselves is a very real, very serious problem for one who is struggling to become more conscious.

  7. Thank you for all these beautiful thoughts and healing images. Your blog is so consistently enriching. And always it circles back to personal growth relating to everything surrounding. Your work has inspired me to write down my dreams first thing in the morning and I naturally go into a type of meditation through drawing, in silence, following this.

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