After my wife gets up, I lie in bed and meditate.
I know all the meditation manuals tell us to “sit erect in a comfortable position.” Sit, schmidt, there’s nothing more comfortable than lying in bed, warm under the covers, the birds singing outside. Nah, I’ll do my meditation flat on my back.
Most mornings I do what they call a body scan meditation. I focus on my body. What feels good? What doesn’t? In the beginning, it was hard, but years and years into it, I can isolate my little toe, and tell you how the top of the toe feels, how the bottom feels, how the joint inside feels. And in that kind of detail, I slowly examine the feelings in dang near every inch of this aging body of mine.
It’s become a frightening thing. Pretty much, when I meditate and pay attention to everything, everything hurts a little. Everything. None of it is awful, but every square inch of me carries a little ache.
When I am done, I say a prayer, then say (sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud) “It’s Showtime.” and pop out of bed. My day has begun.
It’s funny, five steps into my day, and virtually every little ache and pain my meditation has revealed to me seems to disappear. I feel fine. And most days, I plow through my days without thinking about them at all.
Are they still there?
I think so.
I mean, if I were to stop and do another meditative scan, I suspect I would find them again, but that blanket of small pain seems to disappear in the wake of inertia, in moving my mind to something else, writing poetry, feeding the cat, getting dressed, in the day’s work – all the prosaic things of life.
So they are still there, that mesh of aches that start my morning, but they are made irrelevant by moving forward. By doing. By action.
I kind of treat my depression the same way. Depression, for me, is pretty much an everyday thing. All that varies is the depth of it. And like the little aches and pains, it’s more evident in the morning, whispering its lies into my brain, reminding me of my worthlessness, my inability, the hopelessness of it all.
“It’s showtime!” is my battle cry. My declaration that my depression won’t stop me. The show, after all, must go on. So must my life. People depend on me. Or at least my cats do. I get up anyway.
None of this is a cure. But it keeps me going. It distracts me. Action trumps anxiety, aches, depression every time. And if I have to play the action card every day? That’s OK with me.
You might say, why then, if you want to defeat your aches, mental and physical, do you do a body scan meditation every morning? Good question, I never thought about it until recently. What is the sense in it? I just did it because that’s where I started in my meditation journey. But why, I wondered.
In the end, I think the awareness has value. Knowing what and where I am mentally and physically has value. It tells me how much I need to battle through. It reminds me that in the past, I have defeated my daily demons. I get to celebrate my victories. I get to remind myself that I have the power to push back the aches and angry little demons in my head.
Otherwise, I’d just trudge through.
That ability to celebrate our victories, large and small, is powerful. There’s gratitude in it. And gratitude heals and empowers.
And I don’t know about you, but I need all the healing and empowerment I can get.
Be well. Travel wisely,
PS: The painting is one of mine. It’s called “Into the Forest”, watercolor on paper. You can see more of my art on my art blog.