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The instructions are always simple in meditation: follow the breath. Breathe in, breathe out. 

How simple it sounds.  And yet after a busy day how hard it is to do.  I realize how much I am trying to breathe rather then letting the breath breathe in and out of me.  It’s a simple distinction yet I always need to shift to allow that to happen.

Perhaps the important word here is “allow.”  To ride the breath I have to get out of the way and follow it.  

We’ll often hear the words, “Take a deep breath.”  When we do that there is an intention, a mechanical action.  I am doing something.  When we follow the breath we are allowing it to show us how it is moving. 

In the first moments when sit to meditate I always go through this transition until there is a softening and my body teaches me how breathing happens.

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A nightmare woke me. I have them rarely at this point in my life (thank goodness.) But this horrid dream was with me, lingering. I felt myself at odds, disrupted, not wanting to sleep, afraid I would reinhabit that world.

Rattled I could think of nothing to do, so I sat and watched the chaos of my mind.

How hard it is at times to find this simple moment. I get completely pulled into all the important contents. I think of Sharon who wrote asking me to blog more frequently and realize with slight panic that I didn’t reply back after asking how she was doing. My heart fills when I think of a client who is in a disastrous situation with colleagues at work, I think of the husband of a couple I work with who is struggling with whether to leave his relationship. Tears flow as I digest their stories, holding their struggle with them, knowing there is nothing to do but to be with them.

My mind begins to unclutter as I allowing each thought, each person, each heart filled moment to pass through. As I acknowledge the presence of each moment I return, softly, finally able to grab hold of the thread of my breath as the moments and experiences of a full life metabolize.

For a fragment of a moment I release the grip of my mind and clarity illuminates so gloriously I struggle to receive it – and it recedes. I am aware, once again, of how my meaning making mind lays yet another filter on this moment, this simple precious moment of being.

This is what I want. Nothing compares to this utterly uncomplicated longing to find what’s there between each to-do, each filled moment of life. This is what I want – to connect with this brilliant emptiness.

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This morning as I sat intending to focus my mind I found instead the wild elephant of old.  This mind of mine was pushing and pulling completely chaotic and disruptive.  I watched my mind careen down path after path captivated by whatever arising disruption was occurring. 

What happened to my steady breath?  Gone.  I was, yet again, beginning, as if I had never meditated before. 

As I realized my unruly mind I laughed and lightened my own mental heaviness. My trying so hard was making the process harder. 

That allowed for my mind to calm, to harness the wild elephant.  As I felt the rise and fall of each breath I was grateful for the simple call to be present.  To rest in this moment and discover it more fully. 

[What better way to illustrate this communion than with Gregory Colbert’s images from Ashes and Snow exhibition]