It was the perfect night to steal ten minutes to sit in the meditation garden. Actually, it was on my to-do list. Life gets so crowded that I sometimes leave quiet reflection somewhere on the bottom of the pile. But tonight was different: it was a homework assignment. As I watched my students dutifully write "meditate for ten minutes in nature" in their agenda books, I knew I had to make the time to do so as well.
Elizabeth Gilbert has a great account of trying to calm her thoughts during meditation in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Cluttered and random, her thoughts stream wildly until she learns how to stop the tide. I'm no different. It's hard for me to stop and sit still without generating another list or replaying the days events. It was even a challenge to sit for ten minutes just now and prevent myself from composing this entry when I was supposed to be silencing my thoughts. What did I do? I began to listen, trying to focus all of my attention on what I was hearing. A lawn mower, passing cars, wind in the leaves, crickets, playing in a yard. Then I began to see. Fading sunlight, flowing clouds, a spider in a web. Am I calmer for it? Definitely. In fact, I may take the next ten minutes and do it again.