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.

Paton June 2, 2014 - 7:58am

This post reminds me of this passage I've always liked from Thich Nhat Hanh's first (I think) book:

“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not "washing the dishes to wash the dishes." What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Oh Pat, I so relate to the "wishing away the dishes" so I could get on to something more important. I hope that I am learning that the present moment really is all that is important. Thanks for sharing this lovely missive.

Pamon June 2, 2014 - 10:48am

Love your writings!

Thank you so much, Pam. You made my day!

Barb Bozzoon June 2, 2014 - 11:08am

Thanks, Lynette, for the wonderful reminder to "listen" to our daily interruptions as signs that there is something we are suppose to "hear" or experience. I am a firm believer that animals/pets have an innate ability to sense our needs - not just their own! My cat, Violet, always wants to sit on my lap whenever I start to read the newspaper! I think she is actually saving me from all of its negativity!! Learning to relax and accept interruptions instead of tense-up and detest them is the beginning of opening ourselves up to receive any messages the Universe has to give us! I love how you invite your Angels to speak to you daily. I used to do that, but with cay heart shapes that I drew from a bag - each with a word of guidance. I also used to draw a Tarot card daily - mostly when a very dear, spiritual friend of mine was still alive. Thanks to your blog, I am going to start my own daily ritual again and truly "listen" with all my heart. I am also going to put down the paper willingly in order to meditate to the rumbling purr of my dear cat!!

I agree, Barb. I think it was SARK who said that cats are angels with fur. I'm pretty sure she was right! Thanks, darlin'!

Ah! there is nothing quite like the serenity that comes from stroking my Sneakers with his satiny fur as he purrs and lifts his white footed paw (he is black with four white sneakers!) to caress my arm or face or whatever is closest to him. He is old and fragile, but never too lacking in energy to dispense his boundless love. He ponders my face while I ponder how sad my world would be without this purrfect example of selfless love.

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