Meditation Interruptus
by Lynette Sheppard
June 1, 2014 - 12:19pm

A friend recently asked me if I meditate. “Depends what you mean by meditate,” I answered. “If you mean, do I sit on a cushion, no. These days, I meditate by doing the dishes or sweeping the floor. When I remember.”

Over the years, I have sat on a cushion (and a lot of folding chairs) to learn to quiet the  mind. I think that has helped me to transition to housework as meditation.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience guided meditations led by spiritual teachers from medicine men to Buddhist monks to Enneagram experts.

Reading has long been a form of meditation for me. I always felt a little guilty that I read so much - then found that Joseph Campbell, mythologist and all around amazing human, claimed reading as his meditation practice. Great, no more guilt. (OK, less guilt.)

Certainly, nature has provided me with ample meditative moments where my monkey mind finally goes to sleep and quits bugging me with endless ideas, visions, and thoughts.

The last few years, I have taken to picking an angel card in the morning to provide focus on a word for the day. I keep coming back to that single word: Willingness, Depth, Clarity, Risk, Delight. Does it show up in my life? How? Shall I cultivate it? Or wait for it?

I’m not sure I would ever stop to consider a single concept for a day without plucking my angel card from the koa bowl on my bedside table.  My word for the day serves as a path to heightened awareness and noticing. No, it doesn’t work for all my waking hours; that would be way too much to ask of myself. Still, it brings a little meditation practice into my daily life.

Just lately, I have embarked on a new meditation practice. I call it Meditation Interruptus. I don’t mean interrupting my practice, I mean the interruption is my practice. It’s a little weird, but indulge me.

I am not a good multitasker. I prefer to focus on one chore completely and finish it before moving on to the next. Otherwise, I may end up redoing a botched chore or project. So I have historically hated interruptions. And working at home? Interruptions abound.

Our two phone lines ring constantly. Since Dewitt is often on one, I answer the other. Urgent email, delivery persons, visitors, and workmen - normal household stuff but this is also my office.

Living in paradise means the sounds of chain saws and weed whackers, guaranteed to move my shoulders up toward my ears.

The biggest interruption of all is my cat, Frankie. He will prostrate himself across my computer keyboard, meowing vigorously, until I have no choice but to stop and pay attention to him.

Interruptions have been my worst nightmare. Until now. It came to me one day: what if I looked at interruptions in a whole new light? What if they are just a call to slow down, to stop and be present for a moment?  

The thought intrigued me enough to start my new practice. I now try to answer the phone joyfully and with my whole heart. Same with dealing with visitors and deliveries.

And the cat? I drop everything for him and sit down with him for some furry love. (Talk about stress reduction - try petting a cat several times a day. Health benefits galore.)

Meditation is a form of re-membering - of coming together. Re-membering and remembering that I am whole. It is simple, not easy.

It’s still early days in my newest practice - I’ll let you know how it goes. Oops, here comes Frankie - gotta go meditate.

hi Lynette! First off, Frankie is gorgeous and I can see why it would be impossible to resist him! I also meditate regularly in several different ways. And I think that it is key that we do it in ways that help us individually, not just because someone else taught us that way. I consider my writing a meditation, especially my Artist's Way Morning Pages. I also consider my walks with my dog Kloe a meditaiton, and then I usually meditate with my husband while sitting for 15 minutes. And then, like you say, every single time we can catch ourselves and bring ourselves back to the essence of our life--that's as meditative as it gets. Good for you for making it up your way! ~Kathy

Thanks, Kathy! And thanks for sharing some of your ways of meditating. Love the idea of meditating with my husband. (And 15 minutes should be easy to carve out of even the busiest day.) We'll try it.

Jan LeCocqon June 2, 2014 - 4:10pm

Trust you to come up with a new insight!

Dean D. Ziegleron June 2, 2014 - 8:54pm

When I served congregations as a pastor, I battled what I constant interruptions to my "work". Then one day I realized that the interruptions WERE my work. Thanks for a great blog, Lynette!

oh how perfect, Dean. I wish I'd known long ago that interruptions were such a blessing. But I'm thrilled to see them as such right here, right now. Thanks for sharing your insights, too.

This has to be one of the best original thought graces I have heard in a while. Many thanks :)

Laura Ellenon June 3, 2014 - 1:27pm

Now that I think of it, sitting on the porch with Maggie, my cat, to see the first light of the day is a meditation, as is our dusk porch sit to watch the fireflies dance. Thanks for helping me to claim these beautiful and transformative times of meditation.

Thank you, Laura Ellen, for sharing such a lovely vision of meditation.

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