Meditation is a practise I return to and fall away from over and over again. I first encountered meditation techniques in various yoga classes as a teenage, but took my first deep dive at the Shambhala Centre in Victoria B.C.
When I returned home to Nova Scotia with Mat in 2010, we unknowingly entered a difficult period in our lives that would be devoted to my father. He was suffering through what would be his final year with ALS. He was in a private care home, but we visited him 3-4 times a week, managed his affairs, medical appointments, supported his ill wife, and cooked the nutritious meals he requested.
Our life was so up in the air and so complicated – we were living in the city, but not really participating in any sort of community because life was all about caring for my dad and simply getting by. I was working full-time and coming home to upsetting phone calls and tough decision making.
I recalled the peace I had felt visiting the Shambhala centre in Victoria, and was craving a space in my life that was just mine. I felt I needed permission to feel peace, even if only for a short time. I registered in a four week course at Shambhala Halifax – Meditation in Everyday Life – and I found some peace.
Meditation helped me so much through that year of deep anguish and grief. I went on one weekend retreat to complete Level I Shambhala training. I stayed with my Aunt in the country and drove to Mahone Bay each day to sit in silence. I experienced such an emotional release – our incredible instructor and the group I sat with held space with such compassion, gentleness, and humor.
I went on a second weekend retreat, pregnant and still grieving, to complete Level II.
I’ve come back to a meditation practise several time since that weekend, though less often since becoming a mother. After the birth of my second daughter, I took a wonderful ACT for Anxiety & Depression group course through Mental Health and Addictions that incorporated a lot of mindfulness and meditation. It shifted things for me in a big way.
I recently attended a local Vipassana sitting at a beautiful seaside community hall. Sitting with a group can be so powerful.
I keep meaning to buy a proper cushion and set up a home meditation space where I can work on developing a daily practice. Because I feel more grounded when I meditate. I make better choices. I am calmer with my children. I feel more in my body. I pause before I react. Even with just ten minutes of sitting a day.
So, I’m going to start. Five minutes a day. Sitting quietly on a sofa pillow, guided by a podcast in bed, sitting in the car, or hiding in the bathroom – whenever and wherever I can fit it in.
Who is with me?
Sometimes, Mat brings me home books he think I might like from the library. That’s my love language right there.
This week, he brought me home a book by Mallika Chopra (daughter of Deepak Chopra) called Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy.
She is a busy mother who somewhere along the way became disconnected from her meditation practice and her intentions. Relatable. And her father is Deepak Chopra!
It has positive ratings on goodreads and I’m enjoying it a few chapters in.
I want to recommend a podcast that I find incredibly soothing and calming and yet funny and thoughtful. I recently spent a night in solitude at the Joyful Mama Retreat Cabin in West Dublin, Nova Scotia. After a full night’s sleep, I spent my morning drinking coffee, doing yoga, and listening to Jack Kornfield’s Heart Wisdom Podcast. (Any parent knows what a luxury this is!)
Jack Kornfield is a Buddhist monk, meditation teacher, academic, father, husband, and activist.
The episode I enjoyed that morning, and several times since, is Episode 73. – The Garden of the Heart. It resonated with me, because as you know I enjoy gardening metaphors.
“You have in you the seeds of great compassion, the seeds of wisdom and care for others. Meditation then is not to make some special experience, but it is to learn how to tend the garden of the heart and to water the seeds of kindness and presence in your own heart.”
A simple way to start a meditation practise with a bit more support is to spend some time every day sitting or laying still listening to a guided meditation or a podcast like Heart Wisdom Hour. It is really nourishing to the soul.
My dear friend Evan Stanley recently published a piece on Medium What Meditation Isn’t. In it, he debunks the myth that to meditate “correctly” you need to empty your mind and stop thinking.
If you’ve ever tried to meditate and thought “my mind is just too busy” or that you’re “not cut out for it,” read this. Evan offers four practical tips to help you as you get started with a meditation practice.
And maybe this notion of practice, this notion of doing something for its own sake, without any point or goal, is one of the great gifts of meditation. Because we realize that that’s the only way we can do anything well: not by aiming at a result, not by shooting for something in the future, but by doing that thing just to do that thing.
Thank you, beautiful Evan.
Does meditation make you hungry? Or is it just me?
I thought it would be fun to share two recipes that include dulse and maple. Popcorn and kale chips are two of our favourite snacks around here.
This Kale Maple Dulse Chips recipe from I Eat Real Food is a bit different from other kale chip recipes – it is nearly half kale and half dulse. The posts suggests one way to enjoy this snack is on an apple slice. Yum.
Mara Seaweed’s Dulse Popcorn with Maple Syrup is the perfect balance of sweet and salty. We often add a bit of maple syrup to the butter we pour over our popcorn, and it is seriously good.
We have a designated popcorn pot and use a mix of coconut oil and butter. How do you like to make popcorn?