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February Newsletter 2023

My Easy Guide to Meditation

First of all, you must find a word or phrase that you will continuously repeat while you meditate. It's called a mantra. My mantra is OM namah shivaya and I have been saying that for many, many years without knowing what it meant until right this instant when I googled it: It means "O Salutation to the auspicious one." What? Who? If I had only known this senseless and incomprehensible meaning, I might have chosen another mantra, like Shut Up or Close Your Eyes, Bea!

Or maybe I could have chosen another Buddha-y phrase like Om mani padme hum. But this means "the jewel is in the lotus" which also sounds lame and inappropriate and more like the last scene of the last episode of a TV spy thriller like "Treason" on Netflix.

So anyway, choose your word or phrase carefully because you will be repeating it at least a million times over the next 40 years. Apparently Ram Das said his mantra continuously 24/7. We, the heretical few, are all wondering why that isn't called obsessive compulsive disorder? Just sayin'.

Years ago - in the 70's and 80's - after George Harrison had brought the Indian gurus into our consciousness - one of the more popular ones, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, would actually SELL YOU A MANTRA. You paid MONEY for the word or phrase that would come to haunt you for the rest of your life. And you were sworn to secrecy and were to tell no one or your blabber mouthing would null and void the effectiveness of your mantra. Is there a deeply spiritual reason for this top secret OM thing? Is the only way to reach nirvana to keep your mouth shut and your mantra to yourself? Or might it just be because everyone was given -, was SOLD - the same mantra and Mr. M.M Yogi didn't want to get caught with his diaper down? One wonders.

Ok, so now you have your mantra. Congratulations, you are now ready to meditate so you can become an enlightened being. Warning: This may take more than a week... Find a comfortable place to sit - a chair if you are over 60 or cross legged on the floor if you haven't yet had a knee replacement and are still relatively nimble and can get up off the floor without grunting and holding on to the ottoman. (Best to meditate before caffeine or you will be compelled to start decluttering the guest room closet instead.)

My meditations go like this: I start with sitting in a chair in a quiet room without the dogs. (They are just outside the door barking...) I set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes and close my eyes. I start my mantra and if I am lucky, get two Oms in before I start thinking about the outfit I will wear for the day: The black t-neck and white sweat shirt or a white t-neck with a black swea. .? Whups, I have caught myself dilly-dallying. I quickly interject the phrase I was taught, "thinking" and bring myself back to my mantra. Om namah shivaya, Om namah shivaya.

Then, shortly after that, what interrupts my road to enlightenment is what am I going to have for dinner? Little Turkey meatloaves, coconut rice with bok choy maybe? And I think about dinner until I catch myself and say - Thinking! - then it's Om namah shivaya. I have interrupted my path to enlightenment yet again. Since I am thinking about food anyway, what pops up is that I need more coconut oil and should put it on my shopping list before I forget. I get a pen and my To Do list and write it down. This is not good, and I scold myself and angrily say "Thinking!" a few times, then it's Om etc. again for a good long while.

But, what intrudes now is a memory from when I was 12 years old and Judy Beckner's mother said Judy couldn't play with me for a week because I was too bossy, and I am reliving how unfair that was and how much I hated her mother... Then I catch myself again and mentally yell "THINKING! You gormless bugger! When will you learn?" I peek at the timer and see I have 15 minutes left. It's only been 5 minutes. Deep breath and back to OM namah shivaya. And so it goes.

"What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find. When someone is seeking, it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking, that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything because he is thinking of the thing that he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means to have a goal, but finding means to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, oh worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose." Siddartha, Herman's Hesse

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