How is your practice affecting your life? Write a brief paragraph about a moment where you saw your practice making a difference for you and those around you. Make a submission now.
Milkweed by Jane Mayers
I walk most mornings along the Delaware Canal. Along the 1 ½ mile stretch that I use, there are 3 short sections along the bank of “protected” Milkweed. Two sections were severely damaged after a storm last year. You might ask, what’s all the fuss about Milkweed? It turns out that Milkweed is key in the life cycle of Monarch Butterflies.
In the hopes of restoring the two sections with seeds for next year, I had been collecting Milkweed seed pods. Last Tuesday afternoon, as I was going out with a long list of To-Do’s feeling pressed for time, I saw the bag of seed pods and decided to stop along the way. It was a brilliant Fall early afternoon, with the sun shining on the trees that had already begun to turn bright red, orange and yellow amidst the trees whose leaves were still green. In a slight breeze, it was literally raining yellow and orange leaves on the towpath. The beauty took my breath away & I felt transfixed as the leaves fell around me.
As I took the seed pods out of the plastic bag and began to spread them along the bank…the breeze caught a number of these feathery seeds and I felt as light at the seeds floating and suspended in the moment as if held by grace itself. I felt a sense of protectiveness, like a parent of the seeds, the canal bank and life itself. My list of To-Do’s fell away and I was able to bask in this moment of joy, feeling connected with everything. I was grateful for my mindfulness practice which helped me pause & rest there.
What I Learned on Retreat by Jean Meier
On retreat this year I learned that when I’m meditating and a fire alarm goes off, the ear-splitting sound is mighty unpleasant.
The sudden sound was definitely disorienting. I also happened to be meditating alone in an unfamiliar part of a large building. Time to panic?
Of course not. A person who’s been meditating for decades wouldn’t panic.
Not so true.
In actuality, I experienced a moment of confusion and anxiety. A couple people nearby quickly headed off in different directions, and neither of them towards what I thought would be the nearest exit. Should I follow them? Surely, they knew what they were doing. Or should I trust myself?
Practice kicked in. I took a deep breath and trusted myself. I’m sure the others got out as well, if by a more circuitous route, but I did find the closest exit. I waited with others until the fire department confirmed there was no fire, and all was well.
The point is, unpleasant things happen all the time. It’s not that long-time meditators don’t feel difficult emotions. They do. It’s that practice gives space to consider the options and to choose wisely how to respond. In retrospect, I could actually see how the excitement was like a wave of sensation. It arose, crested and then passed away. Overall, an unexpected lesson.
Where has your practice been making a difference for you and those around you? Let us know and we’ll post it her or in our next newsletter (with your permission).