Evasive Stillness

Chuck shows up for a week with some professional surfers on his charter boat, and it’s fun to have some surfing company for a change. But between surfs, I have few excuses not to spend more time going within. There is so much I still need to work on. About twelve seconds after I sit down to try Melanie’s meditation techniques, I’m restless, terribly uncomfortable, and my mind is clouded with ten pressing things I need to do.

I decide to read about meditation instead of actually sitting. I have a variety of blogs aboard that describe it, making it sound fairly simple, but when I attempt to sit still again, the same feelings of dread and discomfort quickly become intolerable. “Clear your mind,” one blog says. “Stop thinking.” But how? My mind is a conveyor belt of endless thoughts with no off button. But even within the laughably short times I try, I am able to grasp the idea that my thoughts are not me. There is some great and powerful stillness below them.

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I want freedom from the tyranny of my ceaseless mind and wild emotions. It’s a matter of doing the work, persevering. I see that becoming a better me is going to take discipline. One blog describes a condition of ataraxia: a lucid state of robust tranquility characterized by ongoing freedom from stress and worry. I want that!

For now, stillness of mind comes to me more easily through movement: surfing, working, and yoga. Although I’ve taken yoga classes sporadically over the years, I’ve never been disciplined about keeping a regular practice. I did it more to stretch than find inner calm. But now I have the time, and it’s so much less painful than meditation.

A few afternoons a week, I dinghy over and tie off to the far side of the sunken barge, away from Loreen’s usual haunts. An encounter with her would eliminate any hope for finding mental tranquility. I climb up on the old wheelhouse and roll out my mat across the rusted iron roof. Stepping onto the mat is like having a meeting with my higher self, the person I want to be. I stand in mountain pose and start breathing and moving in sync.

As April moves into May, I find rhythm to my yoga sessions, seeking the balance between strain and poise, grace and strength, effort and flow, too much and too little. Balancing breath and movement, I feel profound presence and connection with my body, the planet, and beyond. With the trades at my back and the sunset a dynamic tableau to the west, I am grateful to be a part, however insignificant, of all of this. I wish for more clarity, more awakening, a better grasp of universal truths. As the horizon glows orange behind the thick row of silhouetted palms, I am dedicated to moving closer to the untouchable, the Light, and a better me.

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