Bas Relief, Suknothan Thailand depicting walking meditation

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I don’t understand profound Buddhism. Meditation is just a part of it. So is chanting. Some unapproved practitioners of an offshoot of Buddhism practice the strengthening and soothing chant, “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” As an observer I notice that chanting of any sort builds both calm and lung power.

Yet, we graduate, change jobs, lifestyles, partners. People move away, relationships change, distance, and sometimes wither. We get old and sick. We tell ourselves, “Buck up, cheer up.” But we can’t.

We might try travel, sports, parties, new projects, new causes, drinking, drugs, politics. We want  to commit to something. But we can’t. We’re filled with resentment, hope, anger, paralysis. Anxiety prevents us from getting anything done.

Prayer works for some. Others say meditate. Be mindful. Concentrate on the here and now. Stop reacting and learn a new way to act.

Too much going on now. I’ve spent my time writing the history of my Danish and Ukrainian immigrant forbears who gave birth to my mother and father. They travelled the early Pacific Northwest railroads as homesteaders to Seattle and Canada.

Sometimes meditation has worked for me—still, being in the present is not easy. The first group I tried, for an hour at a time, considered the heavens and the stars. I learned to keep my mind from jumping around, but one evening I remained in a trance driving home and drove clear to the next town before I realized where I was.

I found a mindfulness practitioner who encourages breathing. Simply focus on your breath, inhale slowly through the diaphragm, expand to fill your lungs, then reverse and concentrate as you slowly expel the outflow of breath. Stresses moved away and I began to realize a calm perspective. Then we moved for a while. Now we’re back where I can rejoin that group.

So, if you’re having trouble sleeping  at night, maybe you’re still  turning over today’s stresses, or tomorrow’s challenges.

Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone: and do not be troubled about the future, for it is yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.”  Ida Scott Taylor McKinney





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