Sometimes when I look at things all I see is weeds, but when I enter into a space borne of creative engagement, in this case photography, wonder is revealed.
Meditation can transform a field of dandelions. There are as many ways into meditation as there are things to be occupied with.
Jerry Seinfeld practices transcendental meditation which involves chanting a mantra. A bit he performs about horses is a perfect example of the fruits of such a practice and can be found on YouTube.
Yoga is another popular way into the paradoxical emptiness of meditation. So is writing. The 19th century author Charlotte Bronté’s meditations led to masterpieces like her book “Villette”.
At one point in this novel, she describes bees as happy. Reading this recently gave me a meditative pause; Are bees really happy? I wondered. I know animals have emotions. Who can see a dog wagging its tail or hear a horse whinny and not be aware that they feel pleasure?
But happy? The bees, if they were happy, were also busy. Being truly busy doing what you love exemplifies the active stillness that is meditation; the emptying out of cares by tending to what is most dear. A calm that is cultivated by doing.
Practice creates a routine that bears the fruit known as contentment, or in the case of the bees, honey!
Once a routine is established, you can take it anywhere. Last month, sitting in an airplane crowded with screaming infants, I was enveloped by clouds of synthetic scent because the man next to me must have spritzed himself with several bottles of very cheap cologne. I entered into meditation by reading.
Novels such as Bronté’s, are filled with sentences that can be broken off of their hinges and become an entrance to another way of being. “Happy bees?”
“Body in motion, mind at rest.” is a sentence that got me meditating some years ago on the way movement can induce calm as well.
Maybe that is the secret of bees.
Some years ago, a doctor respectfully suggested I get moving to ramp up my immune system.
“You’ re out of shape.” she said. “Take up something you’ve always wanted to do. You'll be more likely to stick with it”.
I took a horse back riding lesson. While I was busy being with the horse, busy listening to the instructions of the riding teacher, I was empty of all my worries. This same experience often arrives in a yoga class where stretching and bending the places in the body that are cramped up with worry is facilitated by an instructor. But yoga, like horseback riding and the meditative states they can evoke, are eventually very private practices.
For guidance in the art of moving into meditation, our region offers rich resources. Take a horseback riding lesson with Herbie Best or saddle up at opportunity farm located on the highway in Truro. If yoga intrigues you, there are many options in the county to take a class.
You can also stop in at one of our libraries, find a sentence that startles you, and take it for a walk. Whatever your focus, may it lead you into extending engaged moments to rediscover underlying peace. May you ride, dream, garden, walk and be as happy as the busy bees while the days empty into September.
- Eliza Fernbach is a filmmaker and Vice President of the Visual Arts Nova Scotia Executive Committee.