Writing and Meditation

I first started meditating back in my twenties when I took a class from a Jesuit Priest. I’ve forgotten his name, but I remember he had one of the most beautiful and serene faces I’ve ever seen—he was a great advertisement for why you should meditate. Not a winkle on him, even though he was well into his forties. And a very nice man—someone who really practiced his spiritual beliefs.

He started off with guided meditation—on a flower, or a stream, or a flame. And gradually I moved to other types of meditation. Buddhist chanting. Tibetan singing bowl. Breathing meditations. I still come back to guided meditations for when I’m out of practice, for when I’ve let the practice drop.

Meditation has gotten me through bad times, through tough jobs, and through books I didn’t know how to finish. The best thing about it is that you can use the practice anywhere—when traveling, waiting in line (a great place for breathing meditation), in traffic (a tape or CD makes that easier). Before you go to bed (when it’s okay to fall asleep). When you wake. Sitting alone at a restaurant and staring at a flower or a flame or even a salt shaker. It’s about clearing the mind. About taming the hundred monkeys that are jabbering around in there so you have some quite space.

It’s about recharging.

Everyone needs to find ways to recharge. For some folks it’s a trip to the beach. I’ve always found that a bit exhausting, however. Too many people in summer, too much sand, and too much trouble to find a parking space, or to pack up and fly to a resort and get home again. Vacations are often more stress than regular life—a great change of pace, but not really the recharge I need. A day of books, or movies is also fun, and distracting, but doesn’t really help leave me feeling as if I’ve cleaned the mental house—those inputs often add more clutter. So that’s when I head back to mediation.

It’s great over a cup of coffee. Or watching the sun rise. Or set. Or sitting for five minutes in a park.

And it’s something I need to get back to.

Mediation usually gets dropped when I’m busy. It becomes the last on my list (until I get squirrely or my creativity dries up), and then  I have to remember, oh, yeah, I need to do this. The nice thing is you can start off slow. No need to meditate for an hour—five minutes is fine. Or it’s back to the guided mediation for me until those monkeys settle down in their cages and stop that incessant chatter. It can be a few minutes in the evening to watch clouds and empty my mind in just watching the clouds. It can also be feeing the horses, and just being there—really there and not thinking of other things—while I do the chores. It just needs to be about me being quiet, being present in the moment, and letting everything go quite inside.

That’s the time I can hear the still voice of inspiration. That’s when I start to feel recharged.

Shannon Donnelly

Now at Book View Cafe:
A Compromising Situation
Under the Kissing Bough

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