On Meditating, Sort Of

Yesterday a friend sent me this poem. It is by American poet, Mary Oliver. She is one of my favorites, whom I know not in person, but very personally through her words.[br]

On Meditating, Sort Of
Mary Oliver (From Blue Horses)

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half asleep — where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.[br]

The first “detail” of this poem that I immediately related to was the reference toNuma Down Vermilliona time. “Time has never heard of me, never will, or even need to.” As personal as I, and I believe many others, make it — “time is not on my side,” “time is a master,” “time is unforgiving” — and, as commoditized as I make it — “I don’t have enough of it” — time is simply a human creation. A construct. A handy system of measurement. Not the general quality of seasonal time. Not the kairos version of time beyond time. These are the kinds of time that I want to give my true devotion. Where I would like to change my relationship to time is in the obsession of ticking seconds, compressed minutes, and of cramming in the most possible to a limited window. It’s revered, I know. And I admit, there is a buzz to having some capacity to do it. Yet something feels deeply amiss in this for me.  It is no different that over-stuffing a suitcase. Sometime it is essential, but let’s face it, sometimes good things must stay behind. Just thinking it doesn’t create an expandable zipper compartment.

These days, in this place of life, I want to feel a deliberate relationship with spaciousness. Just because. And, well, because it is such an attractive alternative to the imposition and rather punishing personification of time.

The second detail of this poem is related to this. For me it is about “being” meditation, not “doing” meditation. I know, all being is practice, right. I accept this. After a certain amount of practice, it seems, however, that the practice shifts from “doing something from external guidance to being something from deep internal sourcing.”  “Becoming” might even be more accurate. Becoming meditation. Becoming spaciousness.

I suspect “becoming” has a whole lot to do with entering into a wholeness of belonging. With what? The universe, sort of. The divine, sort of. The vast inner world of compassionate perception, sort of. But these are musings for another day and another tree.

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