Tuesday, February 08, 2011

meditation on meditation

i tried to meditate today. i keep reading about that recent study that showed that your brain shows visible benefits (in the areas of memory, self-awareness, learning) when you meditate regularly.  so i read carefully how to go about it in the book i just finished - instructions to the cook by bernard glassman and rick fields. i arranged myself just as they suggested, took a deep breath and tried to clear my mind.

and i'll admit i gave up within about two minutes. i just couldn't do it. i couldn't calm my thoughts. i found it utterly impossible to think of nothing. all i could think about was what i wanted to do today. i tried to count as they suggested, but that reminded me too much of the obsessive counting i find myself doing when i'm stressed.  you know what i mean, suddenly finding yourself saying 78, 79, 80 in your head and wondering how you got all the way there without noticing? (i am not mental. i know you know what i mean.)

and then i proceeded to spend my morning making bread and vegetarian chili (to which i added some gorgeous chorizo at the last minute, thereby un-vegetarian-ing it) and spending the afternoon quilting two of the quilt tops i made during january.

the hum of the sewing machine, the concentration on even straight lines mesmerized me. i found that i thought of nothing else but the task at hand as i smoothed the cloth and fed it carefully through my trusty sewing machine. a meditative act if there ever was one.  mindfulness. being utterly in the moment there as i sewed.

and this evening i read this article and i felt a little better. i can always try again tomorrow. whether it's sitting quietly for a few minutes or sewing some more or chopping a few vegetables.

i can feel my brain growing already.


poet said...

Yes. Sewing is absolutely a way of meditating. I am very much in the same place with respect to actual "real" meditation - I can do yoga and get the body benefits from it, or I can calm myself and fall asleep with autogenous training, but I can never ever switch off my internal voice, my conscious "me", and it often keeps chatting about mundane things... I guess what counts is that you have something that centers you, and if that's sewing, all the better because you create something all the while!


PS: I too made chili today!

Elizabeth said...

Sewing is a way of meditation, just like to embroider or taekwondo. It totally absorbs you and there are no thoughts and that is meditation at least to me. Ofcourse one can sit still and listen to ones own breathing which is really fantastic to do but sometimes with an active meditation one can more easily let go of ones thoughts.

Have fun with your next attempt.

Sandra said...

This is what I get when the horses are eating hay....a quiet, peaceful time. No matter how many decades I have heard it. I have not tried to meditate, but I have often been contemplative. Is this close? It's about as close as I will get, except when my horses are eating.

I made asparagus soup today.

Maria-Thérèse ~ www.afiori.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathryn Dyche said...

It's funny, I often enjoy being still and quiet but the minute I consciously try to meditate my head starts filling up with a ton of random thoughts. I think some acts definitely have a meditative quality about them. I feel that way often when I'm painting. Hours can go by without me realizing.

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

I'm going to try to sew something this weekend. I always feel like it's more work than it's worth, but it just makes me feel soo good to have something in my hands that I made.

And that hum. It's almost like an ommmm....

The Queens Table said...

You found it. You "noticed" the not thinking moment. The hum of the machine helped.

Meditation is not about being perfect or doing something perfect. Just watch the thoughts as they go by and keep trying to come back to the center point between the thoughts. You can meditate at a traffic light. You can do it anywhere at any time. It is just about calming the mind to release the constant chatter of thoughts. Less is more. You found it on your own. You noticed. Cool.

As a child I would find myself meditation to the whirring noise of the old fashion tire chains on cars in the winter while I waited to cross a road. Totally buzzed me out.

Mary K. Williams said...

Yup, that's what I was going to say. Finding a different level of consciousness during the sewing - very good!

This reminds me of Mushin no Shin "the mind of no mind" - something I would like to achieve more often.

Bee said...

I definitely believe that people need meditative "acts" more than the act of meditation you describe. Cooking is definitely meditative. Sewing is, I'm sure.
But my best and most regular "meditation" is walking. I get a lot of thinking done, but I also have moments when I realize that I've emptied my mind and I'm "thinking" of not very much at all.