“The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.” T.S. Eliot
My daughter began it all. I venture to guess she won’t remember her part. Some years ago when she was in college, my sweet girl, for no reason or special holiday that I can remember, brought me a slim little white book with Meditation in its title. I remember her handing it to me. I think she said something like . . . ”I thought you might like this, Mom.” And that was it. Though surprised at the gift, I just thanked her, not asking the questions I now wish I had. The day went on and we continued our business of being mom and daughter facing a family time charged with the natural sparks of learning how to live within new situations and relationships; we were each exploring some new pathways.
Later, I opened and scanned her gift. At first glance, there was nothing radical or alien or negative. Still, I thought it was calling for something different from my routines; it felt like work. I didn’t think I had the energy in my busy life to dig more deeply. I eventually put it on the shelf, telling myself I would consider it more in depth when I had the time. That time didn’t come until her brother, Matt, died.
At the time of his death, my son had recently graduated from college. His major and minors all dealt with ideas having to do with humanity, bio-ethics, philosophy – any concepts, schemes and doctrines that promoted the ways and means to make the world a better place for us all. I imagine he was also considering living in such a world as one in chronic pain. He was exploring Buddhism/mindfulness before he died. I wanted to know so many things about his last years on earth, about what he valued and who he had become, and about his surprising death. So, I returned to where I started, my daughter’s gift – that slim little white book - to point me toward his exploring, and hopefully some new understandings for his mom who outlived her child.
What Matthew already knew and I eventually discovered was that a mindful pathway – one that directs our attention inward, relishing our moment to moment experiences – is as old as our earliest ancestors who stared at the night skies in wonder. According to thinking across the ages, the process of meditation is nothing more than going within and discovering that higher, spiritual, sacred component of yourself that is perpetually present. We don’t have to change everyday life to fast and study, or wing off to a mountainside monastery, or get baptized, or bar mitzvahed, or become a Yogi master. Although all of those choices are wonderful if they feed your soul, they aren’t necessary to feel the benefits of meditating – of making friends with yourself in ongoing quiet, peace-filled, intentional and loving ways.
Check out some reminders of why this path is an important one to travel. Meditation practices, throughout thousands of years and all across our planet, have been able to help people:
~ connect more deeply with others
~ become physically and emotionally healthier
~ become aware of and enjoy more happiness
~ feel more grounded, centered and balanced throughout all situations
~ enhance production and performance at work and play
~ increase appreciation, gratitude and love for self and others
~ align their life with a deeper sense of purpose
And, as Eliot reminds all explorers, a worthy end to any journey of discovery is arriving at the core of ourselves, the traveler, and truly understand this important place . . . maybe for the first time.