We've had a well-deserved break at Westacre. We worked very hard last year, with very few breaks. So we enjoyed ten days of doing not very much except sitting by the fire and imitating the stillness of Nature.
Not having to get up early, my meditation practice moved from the darkness well before dawn to mid-morning. And what mornings they were. Crystalline frost covered the grass with coarse white fur. Where the frost diamonds caught the light, their little prisms shimmered with silent colour.
Sitting on my blanket on the frozen grass, I went to a place of silence within. That stillness at the bottom of the breath. That pause of nothingness before a new breath arises.
It hasn't been long since I re-committed to meditating with my breath. My mind produces a multitude of distractions. I'm practising just labelling them as 'thoughts' and letting them go, returning to my breath.
I found that 'thoughts' is the right label for me. If I label them as 'thinking' I instantly react as though I have been judged. 'You are thinking! Bad girl! Stop it!' Simply saying to myself: 'thoughts' is like saying 'clouds'. You can't stop thoughts from arising any more than you can stop the weather. So there's no use beating yourself up about it.
And so I return to the pause between two breaths. And as I remain there, I find myself travelling to a place that is everywhere and nowhere. The source of the breath. The ground of existence. The centre of the dance of life. When my mediation ends, I know that I have been home.
I welcome and appreciate this chance to rest in the stillness beyond thoughts. It's like a little midwinter holiday for the mind. A chance to return to myself between the activities of everyday life.
Do you have a meditation practice? How do you take holidays for the mind?