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A 2019 Pilgrimage with the woman in my mirror - First things First

~ Stuff we think we know: our shoe size; our favorite drink after 5:00 pm; which news channel to trust; Chinese vs Italian food; pizza toppings; shortest path to a favorite coffee shop; whether we’re a cat or dog person; best and quickest way to reach the people we love.

~ Stuff we try to figure out: how to efficiently use the latest remotes; investing in a MAC or another PC; when to say yes to a plumber about updating a water heater; finding the best person to clean a fireplace; which apps are really worth the power drain on a phone; why the smoke alarm always screams after midnight.

~ Stuff we may only wonder about: who we are at a deeper level; why sad can drop into our hearts at a moment’s notice; how to define grace; why we said yes, when we thought we meant no.

Full disclosure: For many years I’ve found myself dwelling in the wonderland of “who am I” in those heart and soul places that have nothing to do with remotes or dogs or favorite drinks. (insert here: nerdy brooder) I'm a pilgrim at heart - drawn to contemplating complex issues and wondering who I am and who I’m meant to be – a fact that is truly both gift and curse.

2018 slapped me around a bit; it unfolded as complicated for me and then moved into sad and angry with moments of joy thrown in. In my busyness, I lost touch with my heart and soul places. I started living almost solely with the stuff I thought I knew and could count on – news channels I trusted, movies that might make me smile, shoes that would fit, and seriously thinking about getting a “comfort” cat.

It is definitely time for a change, so in today’s blog I offer my first pilgrim pathway for the new year. I’ve decided I need to revisit my brain; I want to figure out how to gentle it into moving again within quieter, clearer, and more peaceful places. I’m tired of being angry and frustrated with events around me; I need to go back to a time when my brain and I could fashion a better perspective while we participated in life. I’m going back to practicing mindfulness and meditation.

Since some of you are walking this pilgrimage with me, I want to share two books I’ve decided to try. Let’s take them in small bites and decide which speaks best to our very busy brains. Remembering that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY to meditate . . . or pray . . . or use nature to bring your mind to a more peace-filled place, consider one or both of these books and let me know how they work for you. And, of course, if you have a favorite of your own, share it.

Meditation for Dummies: This is an unfortunate title for a pretty good, comprehensive book. The author, Stephan Bodian, provides a lot of practical advice for both beginners and experienced meditators, and lets readers choose whatever area of the practice might appeal most to them as they consider their own needs for personal growth. Bodian ask his readers to compare different meditations as different pathways up the same mountain of inner peace.

Next is Andy Puddicombe’s The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness. The author asks 10 minutes of a reader’s time a day . . . yep, that’s it. Reviewers who have downloaded the Headspace app say it’s perfect for those of us who are either beginning or re-visiting the processes of taming the brain. Podidicombe, a former Buddhist monk, is an engaging and entertaining writer. He takes an informal approach and guides his readers through the why’s and how’s of basic meditation with humor and joy.

These books are now in my pilgrim’s backpack. Come walk and read with me.

As always, I wish you grace, no matter where your travels take you.


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