Finding Silence in Atlanta

My birthday is one month from yesterday. I’m not one of those people who really get excited about my birthday. I neither anticipate nor dread it. In fact, the birthdays I’ve spent by myself have been in many ways more memorable (and delicious in their aloneness) than those I’ve spent in company. I do appreciate the ritual of sending birthday greetings, however, and I’m fortunate that no one close to me has ever forgotten my birthday a la Sixteen Candles.

The anniversary of one’s birth is a mini-holiday, a gift of having survived another year, a day that honors one’s journey. As a mother, it is also a time in which I think about how amazing it is that my mother gave birth to me – her firstborn, an early arrival, a girl. It is an opportunity to look back on one’s past, and look forward to one’s future.

Look back.  Look forward.

Look back.  Look forward.

I’m quite good at doing both. I can spend hours re-visiting the past and inventing the future. What I struggle with sometimes is living in that rather critical place known as the NOW. This is probably why I have such a deep respect for, and yet also resist, meditation practice.

Not only is time spent in silence all about the now, it prevents me from “getting stuff done”. Stuff so mundane and necessary that it pains me to give you examples, but I will. Stuff like sorting and tossing junk mail, picking up kids’ toys, and folding laundry. Someone really does have to do these things, though, and so when I attempt to meditate in my house I am constantly bombarded with thoughts of all there is to do, and I can’t last longer than five minutes before I open my eyes, sigh, and get busy.

If I enter a studio, however, the experience changes. The light is different. What can only be described as a little bit of magic begins to take up residence within me. I breathe deeply as I sit in a space created for silence and reflection. I feel my heart begin to expand and relax. There are no pressing needs here. No one calls out my name. There is only now. There is only me.

As I approach another birthday, and another year, I strive to ensure that I make time and space for the magic of silence. I can’t often get to a studio, and I’m incapable to finding real silence at home, so I do what I’ve done for years. I lace up my running shoes and go outside. If I physically leave my house or office, I can find the quiet again. And the exquisite release that comes with it.

I am traveling for business this week and wondered how it would go if I tried to meditate in my hotel room. Not feeling confident enough to go it alone, I searched for an app on my smart phone and discovered Meditation Oasis. An episode called Meditation for Deep Rest appeared designed for me. I’ve had extreme difficulty sleeping since I arrived on the east coast, so I figured this was certainly worth a try.

As the mediation closed, I didn’t feel tempted to check my email again or glance at my watch. I leaned over to place my phone on the bedside table, and…

Knocked over a full glass of water.

So much for a gentle transition from meditative contemplation to sleep. I leapt up, grabbed a towel, cleaned up.

Then I fell asleep before midnight for the first time all week.

Today I woke not entirely rested, but gently reminded of the magic that silence brings. Wishing each of you a moment of quiet today, and every day.

Linking up with Mommy on the Move and Thoughtful Thursday!

Found the Marbles

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