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Another Day in the Country

Cultivating awareness

© Another Day in the Country

In my life, I’ve always been curious about the world around me — especially in nature.

What kind of tree is that? What are those flowers called? How do you grow them? What do those creatures do? How are they useful?

Regional cuisine also is fascinating to me.

What are those dumplings called? How do you make them? What kind of bread is that? Where can I get it? 

Anything artistic holds me spellbound.

What color is that? What pigment was used? What style? Who created that? Can I do it?

Because of my curiosity, I read a lot of books by an eclectic bunch of authors and subscribe to unusual magazines. One of those is a Buddhist publication I came across.

When my grandson went to get my mail and saw a copy, he said, “So, what, now you are a Buddhist?”

“No, but I learn things from this magazine,” I retorted. “I like their philosophy. I resonate” — using a hip word to impress a teenager — “with some of the things they teach, like meditation.”

I remember a doctor suggesting to me, probably 30 years ago, that meditation might be something I’d want to practice to lower my cholesterol.

I read about it, tried it, didn’t think I was very good at it, and basically didn’t pursue it because I was busy raising kids. Busy working. Busy, busy, busy.

Whenever I tried to sit cross-legged on the floor and clear my mind, the phone was sure to ring.

In times of enforced stillness, my mind still was whirling. I was terrible at meditating. Through the years, I’ve become a little better at it, but I’m still very, very, very far from being a pro. 

Years have gone by. In the evolution of humans, even more studies have indicated positive effects of meditating. I believe in it, but it still is very difficult for me to do it.

For one thing, I have to stop this frantic forward motion that we all get caught up in — doing the same old, same old things.

I have no excuse. I don’t have a 9-to-5 job. At this stage in life, there’s very little I must do. I pretty much can choose how I spend my day. So why is it so very hard for me to stop the normal routine and meditate?

The word “meditate” means to contemplate deeply and continuously, to reflect, ponder, study, consider, resolve, intend — all good things for us to encourage in ourselves.

The article I was reading said that you could begin your practice of pondering, resolving, considering for just five minutes a day, and it would be beneficial.

Five minutes? Surely, I can stop for five minutes and dedicate myself to sitting comfortably and quietly.

What would I consider in these five minutes of calm?

How about expanding our awareness? Try it along with me. Take a deep breath and let it out. Just calm yourself for a minute or so and breathe. Then expand your awareness beyond your breath and feel your feet making contact with the floor, the back of your legs touching the chair, your back against the chair, and so on. 

Then expand your awareness to the objects around you, including the entire room you are sitting in.

Next, use your imagination to bring to mind the building you are in, the rooms of the house. You even could do this for five minutes in your office, at work. 

As your awareness expands, begin to bring your family to mind — one by one. I like to imagine blessing them, loving them from afar.

Keep on expanding to include your friends, pets, plants, trees in your yard. And now, imagine the street where you live, your town, Marion County, Kansas, expanding to include the whole country.

Keep breathing and imagine the whole world, the blue planet we’ve seen in pictures from outer space, and then the planets and the galaxies in space.

When you have expanded your awareness as far as you can go, acknowledge that there is yet more that is unknown in this universe we inhabit.

Ah, isn’t it amazing — this one life we have. And gifted we are to be able to spend another day of it in the country.

Last modified Feb. 8, 2024

 

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