Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The River, Fish and Meditation

I tweaked my practice a bit this morning--instead of an asana practice, I had decided to drive to my favorite little park on the river and walk, perhaps taking a meditation on the water.

It was a welcomed experience--I think I'm entering my moon cycle and around this time, my body feels heavier and more awkward. I prefer to honor the changes in my body and though I could have moved through a more gentle asana practice, I wanted more activity and take any chance I can to walk on the river.

I headed out a little before 7:00 AM so outside was softly glowing from the newly risen light. I walked for about a half of an hour, taking in the breeze, the birds and squirrels, the whole experience I love so much.

I focused on being as meditative as possible, giving attention to my breath and giving attention to the moment. There were times when my mind would wander, many times as a matter of fact, but I mindfully returned to present, wanting to savor the experience as much as I could without putting too much at stake.  I tend to do that--imagine grandeur and then sink to disappointment when the experience does not measure up.

After about 30 minutes, I walked over to a marble bench at the edge of the water and positioned myself for a short meditation. I practiced my meditation with my eyes open--softly gazing ahead to the water, observing the calmness on the surface. A few times, I would catch a fish jumping above the surface, only to disappear as quickly as it had appeared. The water, parted for it's ascent, would merely ripple with it's descent before returning to calm.

This interplay of the fish and the river got me thinking--the river, I imagined, is akin to our minds and the little fish, the thoughts in our minds. Just like the fish, thoughts appear and disappear, coming in and out of our frame of reference. The fish were free to jump above the surface of the water, free to return--the river, never clinging to the fish, was unattached to outcome.  The fish might get swooped up by a bird while floating in the air just above the surface and not make it's way back down.  The river, simply waiting to receive or not, never made anymore of the fish than necessary.

If only, during meditation, our minds could be more like the river and our thoughts more like the fish.  If only our minds, aware of the thoughts as they reach our consciousness or 'surface', could be unattached to the outcome or investment in the thoughts and the thoughts, like the fish, could be fleeting, free to emerge and even more free to submerge.

Thus the practice.

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