I grew sunflowers every summer in the garden behind my parents’ house when I was younger. I’ve always loved them. Last summer, while on a cross-country train trip with my family, we passed fields and fields of them growing in Montana. This is just one of the many pictures I took from the train. If you look closely, you’ll see a field lying fallow next to the field of flowers. That’s the field speaking to me right now.
I have to confess I’m having a problem keeping up with Meditation Mondays. It appears from my behavior that I have an inability to meditate. Actually, it’s not the meditation that’s the problem. It’s the stopping and making time to do it. Without a doubt, the operative word here is “stopping.” What I have is an inability to stop. I get up in the morning and hit the ground running. I’m great at starting and going, but very bad at stopping.
This is just plain crazy, I know, because I have experienced the benefits of meditation and know it is good for me. I get in my own way because I turn on the computer before I put on the tea pot. I have been known to eat breakfast for lunch, because I started working and let the time pass without feeding myself. (That’s what happened today.)
I started meditating when I was on disability after my mastectomy. My doctors, husband, and everything I read told me you need to rest to heal. At first it was easy. There’s not much you can do when you can barely stand up straight. Then, as the weeks went on, it was harder and harder to rest. I wanted to get going again. Well, I got going alright. As Rachel Pappas said in her recent blog post, ” … studies show we actually have 3,000 to 4,000 thoughts a day and another 50,000 impressions. Our minds are flooded!” How do I learn to stop and heal my mind from all the wear and tear of its very busy day?
I was thinking about this problem the other day (anyone else see the irony in that?) I suddenly remembered the concept of letting a field lie fallow to allow it time to restore nutrients depleted by crops. I visualized my mind as that field. Most of the time my mind is pumping out thoughts, ideas, memories, plans, worries, and just plain noise. Not to say that it doesn’t produce at a pretty high level, because it does. I can grow some amazingly creative ideas. I also produce a lot of mundane but necessary thoughts like what I’m doing tomorrow and what’s for dinner. But, if my brain is producing all of the time, when does it recharge?
This week, I decided to throw in an exercise of my own. Instead of moving on to week four of 8 Minute Meditation – Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life, by Victor Davich (Amazon associates link), I’m going to meditate by visualizing my mind as that field lying fallow. I’ve done Watching Your Breath, Naked Sound and Noting Body Sensations Meditation. Now I think I need a week to glimpse pure nothingness.
These are my instructions for “fallow field” meditation (I just made that up.) What the heck, it’s my mind and my meditation practice:
1. Find a comfortable position, upright, but not tense.
2. Set your timer to eight minutes.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Allow your body to relax and notice your breathing.
5. Visualize your mind as a fallow field, lying in the sun, receiving all of the glorious energy brought to it by the sun and the rain and not being asked for anything in return, except to simply be.
6. If your thoughts roam, and they will, just gently bring them back to the fallow field visualization
7. Do not judge or be concerned with how long you maintain the visualization, every second is precious.
Okay, I’m taking the next eight minutes off to practice what I preach. I’m committing to giving my mind some fallow field time and not turning on my computer until I’ve done my meditation each morning. If you think this approach makes any sense, give it a try and please let me know how it went.
Survival > Existence,
I have the same difficulty!
Your description of being unable to stop really rang a bell for me. I also experience this, and have lately tried to be mindful in whatever I do – drinking tea, eating lunch, even walking. Mindfulness in Plain English, and Zen Training are the two texts I’ve been going back to. The Meditative Mind is also an interesting read but definitely not a guide. I wish you success with the meditation, it IS good for us. A quote from Mindfulness in Plain English,
“…don’t worry, your mind has always been this crazy. You have just never stopped and taken the time to notice it before.”
I love that quote! It’s amazing what we learn when we stop and notice, isn’t it? Thank you for your comment and best wishes. Happy meditating!
Survival > Existence,