Meditation for slackers and insomniacs

When you think of meditation, does the idea of eliminating thoughts come to mind? It’s really more about substituting one thought for another. A mantra, sound or vision can fill the vacuum that is typically filled with our “to do” list and other annoying thoughts.

Meditation is not so much a destination as it is a journey. Years ago I used to let my brain get a cramp trying to get somewhere. Now I sometimes use a mantra learned decades ago with TM or picture myself under a lovely evergreen tree. You can use the classic OM sound or picture something that gives you tranquility.

Other techniques that required me to remember successive affirmations have long ago been forgotten. I found them burdensome. When I’m awake at night I use the meditation tool to fall back asleep. I’m sure I’ll be scolded by some as you’re taught to sit upright so that you’re in a state of calm consciousness. I think I hit that zone during the transition back to sleep in my bed at night!

Purging songs from my play set

guitarcloseup

I’m a reasonable minimalist. Not too many clothes or much furniture. I live below my means. Closets are precious real estate zones. Recently I’ve been applying a different filter to songs I keep to play. I think there is a great lesson here for my musical path, as well as my life.

I sing and play guitar. My talents are better than some and far worse than others. Playing is a solitary activity and a group event. Adding items to my potential repertoire is easy. Doing something with them is another. I’ve decided that if I keep a tune for a year or so and can’t find a way to play it by then, it should hit the trash. Loving a song is one thing; effectively covering it is another.

Like many things in life, the clutter of the old keeps the new from taking root. If I flip through my music book and keep seeing a song that I can’t “own,” it wastes my time and precious energy. (It’s a little like reading the blogs of others that don’t resonate and purging that site from your reader. I hope you don’t feel that way about this blog.) Why keep a song that you can’t hit the highs or lows well, or it doesn’t sound good without a driving percussive sound?

The trick to a great song collection to cover is to write down the names of songs when you hear them. Also, playing with others gives you fresh inspiration. I’m going to get very aggressive this weekend and tear through that songbook. Does this strike a chord with any of my readers?

 

 

Nature Mural

img_1021On the grounds of the Coral Springs Museum of Art, a 7,000-tile ceramic relief mural graces the grounds. Created by clay artist Jan Kolenda, and dedicated in 2012, it is titled “Imagine Florida.” One side depicts the ocean reef to the beach; side two highlights the hardwood hammocks to the Everglades. It is designed as a scroll, and two quotations grace an end:

“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth; remote, never wholly known.” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

“Wilderness to me is a spiritual necessity.” – Clyde Butcher.

everglades new.JPG

A three-legged stool and hope

wooden-stool
On display at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee.

Just in case this is not clear enough on the plaque, it reads “WOODEN STOOL – Governor Chiles used this cedar three-legged stool in his 1991 State of the State Address to illustrate that the three branches of government depend on each other.” plaque-with-stool

Like it or love it

Not being one to embrace traditional resolutions, I posed a different question to myself. What do I love doing, and what do I just like doing? I’m focusing here on hobbies and interests. Most of us have any number of things we do in our free time that we enjoy. My challenge was to make a list of about eight personal interests and to make a “like” and a “love” column. The answers were interesting – but not surprising.

What was the point of this exercise? To focus on the things that give maximum personal satisfaction and meaning to my life today. It’s probable that this list will change over time, as it has before. By frequent assessment, I can be sure that I’m not doing the same thing I did yesterday just out of habit. Old habits can curtail new interests and possibilities.

I’m a big fan of asking the right questions of myself. Living life can be a mindless adventure without some sense that you’ve got your life pointed towards the North Star. The hardest part may be seeing that proverbial star in the cloudy sky.

Let me just say that I am no existentialist. The questions of what we love doing, and the pursuit of those interests, are not in conflict with religious faith. My offering for today is a suggestion to get clarity on where you spend your precious free hours. A mindless wandering can trip you in your own doorway.