Have I raved about meditation yet?
I would never say “you should try it”, because I have a deep aversion to being “should”-ed and try never to “should” anyone.
My meditation teacher, Susan Reifer, doesn’t talk that way, either.
When she speaks about meditation, in the 45 minute evening sessions she offers, for free, through the Whistler Public Library, the thing that keeps bringing me back, the thing that makes my body soften and sigh, the thing that I realize I’m desperately hungry to hear, is this thing she says: you’re practicing meeting yourself in friendliness. You’re cultivating attention without judging things as good or bad. You’re giving the present moment your clear, kind attention. (Or at least, that’s my interpretation of what I hear her say. I really should take notes.)
Last night, in our meditation class, to acknowledge the fall, I was invited to release something that was no longer serving me.
I opted to release my need for certainty.
It’s not something I think of as a negative trait. (Return to the top: no good or bad.) I just don’t think it’s helpful at this moment in time. Clinging to certainty seems to be creating some dangerous behaviours in the world. I understand where it’s coming from. I would quite like to feel as if the structure of the world is somewhat solid, that the future is somewhat reliable and predictable, that I can let down my guard a bit. But I’m thinking: no. Probably not realistic.
I have found that I am slowly building my tolerance to this uncertainty by just being friendly to myself. By just acknowledging and noticing – yep, that’s destabilising. That’s uncertain. That’s hard to navigate. Okay, let’s choose this moment’s path of action and be ready to re-assess, pivot, rethink, renege, at any time.
And I am growing this ability thanks to meditation.
Which is why, every time a new release of meditation sessions pings into my inbox, I jump straight over here to share it. (Sign up for Susan’s newsletter here, so you don’t miss the dates!)
It is good medicine in hard times.
It is good to meet myself with a kind of gentle attention – the way a really gifted medical practitioner or friend or therapist does – how are you feeling, what’s going on, does this hurt, how about this? oh, does that feel good? let’s sit with that for a moment… I mean, why rush past it when it feels good?
In place of a need for certainty, I have opted to cultivate delight. Doesn’t that seem out of step with the news feed? Small delights that I want to notice… starting with the cozy feeling I get from the pashmina shawl I threw around my shoulders to practice meditation, that one of my oldest dearest friends brought me back from her 20-years-ago-trip to Mongolia. I delight in this. The way my 7 year old reached his hand across me to rest on my shoulder as we snuggled up at the end of the day. I delight in this. The sweet fragrance of licorice from my tea as it cools in my Meg Gallup mug on my desk. I delight in this.
I do not know what the fall will bring. Wildfires, elections, pandemics, rain events, all are probable. Who knows where those things will lead.
But I do know the small delights, and I will turn my attention-radar on, I will amp up the noticing, I will take delight in these things. I will take it, with thanks.
And I will keep meditating. Not because I should. But because it’s so darn good.
Susan Reifer’s meditation offerings require no special skillset or experience, and absolutely no knowledge of meditation.
A great place to start is with a two-part mini workshop on Tuesday and Thursday evening, 27 and 29 October. But even if you can’t make this starter workshop, try one, any or all of the fall sessions.
Classes are live-streamed online via Whistler Public Library’s Zoom account. Thanks to the library’s support, this community meditation programming is completely free to attend. A library card is not required, and adults can join these sessions from anywhere in the world.
Learn to Meditate
This two-part mini-workshop teaches the practical foundations of non-denominational meditation and mindfulness, equipping attendees with simple tools and practices that can be applied in everyday life. The workshop is split into two one-hour interactive sessions that are live-streamed on Zoom. Participation in the workshop’s first half is required to attend the second. Open to all adults, whether first-time meditators or those who want to re-energize their existing practice.
This 45-minute twice-monthly class guides participants through several different practices and meditations over the course of each session. Each class is different. The program is designed so that people can drop into single classes (one-off) or in series (to cumulatively build a more robust meditation and mindfulness skill set). Classes are live-streamed and interactive. Everyone is welcome, from first-time meditators to seasoned practitioners.
To attend any of these classes, register in advance by emailing Whistler Public Library’s Program Coordinator Jeanette Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no charge, but please do sign up in advance with Whistler Public Library.