Monday, October 17, 2016

Trusting the breath

I am up early on this Monday morning because I could not sleep any more. I could not sink back into sleep, despite the pillow, despite the warm, rebreathed air and the weight of the blankets. Swirls of thought, insistent lines of melody stood between me and sleeping till sunrise. Too much weekend--concerts, conversations, dressing up and dressing down, too much to think about in the circular way one thinks while trying fruitlessly to go back to sleep. 

Time for clothes and coffee, organizing principles of my mornings. And ten minutes of sitting meditation. 

Sounds peaceful, yes? I started doing this first-thing-in-the-morning meditation over the summer--five minutes, seven, then ten, seated cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. Breathe in, breathe out, this moment. Now. Inevitably both body and mind revolt. My spine does not like to be stacked tall on my tailbone. My brain does not like to be still. Whatever part of me is not body and brain fights them for control and then has to be reminded to do this all gently, harmoniously, noticing the battle but returning to the breath. 

The breath, I guess, would be the part that is not brain or spine. Yes, it's made of air and molecules and oxygen drawn into lungs and blood and tissue. It's receptor cells, it's a mechanical vacuum. It's movement of muscles that move without thought and with it. But it's also mystic. 

Outside, inside, the sea I swim in, the source of consciousness, of life. 
Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
To trust that breath, to notice it, to let it calm both mind and spine, is to trust God--creator, redeemer, sanctifier, spirit.

And if those breaths become panicky, shallow, difficult? What does it mean to trust God there too?

Saturday, October 08, 2016

So glorious

Too long between posts, but here I am, back on Washington Island. Only now it's October, fall. A short, energized weekend, not the leisure of August.

A strong wind has been blowing. The kind of wind that knocked the car around on the highway yesterday. I gripped the steering wheel tighter, but then the next gust hit sideways and I swerved, as my arms and hands hands overreacted to the wind's energy. I eased up, put strong hands at 10 and 2, took a breath and thought about the road ahead--not the shoulder of the road.

A firm grip, without tension, kept the car in the center of the road. Eyes forward. It's tempting to look to see where the wind is coming from. But you can't see it, and you couldn't fight it any better if you could.

The wind is still blowing today, and it's a cold wind. Just standing outside for ten minutes, facing out at the lake, feels like you've run a race. The waves roar, the wind rushes past your ears, strings of hair whip across your face. The cold air goes right through your sweatshirt, so your body fights the cold, as if you were standing there in a summer tee.

Still, it's a glorious day. The weather system that makes the wind also blows cottony white clouds across the sky. It's bright blue overhead, and the water moving steadily towards shore is a deep, deep blue. It's too early in the fall for bright colors in the hardwoods--they're still bright, lush green, with the occasional luster of gold. It is that time in early fall when all of summer's colors burn brightest, before the frost, before the snow.

It's all so intense you almost can't bear to be outside. But it's all so glorious, you have to be.