follow the breath

Two years, ago, for Christmas, Mitch got me a meditation cushion. I was probably going through one of my phases, trying to win a hot yoga award (by returning a second time) or deciding that this would be the year  – gasp, finally – that i would go off to an ashram in India to study the Kirtan yogic chants I had always dreamed about.

I guess the cushion was Mitchy’s way of saying, “Now you can meditate from the comfort of your own home, babe.”

Mitchy’s great at knowing exactly what i need. Less wine, more quinoa. Less writing, more revision. Less frazzle, more meditation.

I’ve been “practicing” the – um – meditative arts for about a decade now, although i have yet to levitate off the ground in a cloud of transmigrational smoke.  Not that I haven’t huffed, or puffed, or prayed, or cried, but I honestly haven’t been able to hit the top shelf of the enlightenment hierarchy, even though i own not one but two copies of Chögyam Trungpa’s 1973 classic, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.

How can something that’s so easy and so mundane  – to follow your breath – be so complex at the same time? Much like a lot of other things, I blame TV. Child of the eighties, Micheal Jackson, Whitney Houston, growing up in noisy arcades with a lot of blings and beeps, no worry we have a hard time sitting and thinking. Then add a kid to the mix, the ever churning swirl of the mommy brain? Practically impossible.

I always seemed to start out on the right foot: positive intentions, good posture, and a clear mind.

Deep breath. There you go, Maureen. You’re doing just great. Can I make it to ten? In, out. In…out…. but then it would start. The voice.

I’m breathing too fast. I should slow down.
Ignore the voice, Maureen. Hold it, and exhale.
You call that meditating? I should be working. I’m procrastinating.

I am NOT! I’m helping myself calm down and develop self-awareness. It’s a life altering practice.
I’m hungry. I should have called that women back.
Deeeeeeeep breath. Focus.
Did I cancel that dentist’s appointment yet? Lei doesn’t even have any cavities.
I’m trying to breathe, here!
And you’re doing a marvelous job. Congratulations. You’re ALIVE.

And so it goes, year after year. For a while I tried to focus on the exact conditions that i would need to meditate – hence the cushion. Then I tried to focus on the schedule: six to ten minutes daily, with a weekly working up to half hour and hour long increments. This is when i bought a second yoga mat (in case I wore the first one out right away!) and got the kundalini yoga chants prepped on the CD player, thinking, it may be soon time for a guru!

Deep breath, there, Little Mo.

I guess now since i’m getting a little older, i may be finally realizing that I may never make it to that Tibetan Buddhist mountain retreat that I always meant to get to, and that frankly, I may be okay with that. I’ll stick with my thirty-somethings uses for my meditation cushion: laundry folding, bedtime out loud story reading, and exam correcting at my low lying, teak coffee table.

Folding tiny kid clothes? Meditation. Emptying the dishwasher for the fiftieth time this month, putting the groceries away or humming a song on a radio that you don’t even remember turning on? Meditation. Petting a purring cat and having a glorious, momentary lapse? Meditation. I bet Trungpa had big cats.

Maybe I shouldn’t give up on my mountain retreat …..just yet.

Please, share your meditation successes and failures with me, favorite tricks, sites or recites. I’ll meditate on them.


  1. I love the way you write……I too dream of traveling to Tibet and being enlightened by the Buddhist monks, hiking the Himalayan’s………but like you, fold tiny clothes, wash dish after dish and meditate to the voice in my head!

  2. Kisses and hugs and a deep breath to you Mo!
    The sequence during the meditation attempt was so effective!! It caused some strange form of panic-driven elation and an almost euphoric sense of disbelief. There IS someone else out there who does THIS! It’s very strange to see the thought process spelled out on the screen.

    I’m really enjoying this, Mo…

  3. Active meditation – that’s my style. If my inner voice was silent, I’d think I was dead. You are ALIVE, so live.

    Love you more than all the Scotch broom on Vancouver Island!

  4. I was 1/2 hour late for yoga today and then Leo woke up and I spent the rest of the class feeding him and I thought of this post. I like to squeeze my ohms during the most mundane of chores…it helps to make them a little magical

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