A Million Different Things: Noon, Meditation #8

Meditation #8 is from the middle section, Noon, in this free serialization of my book, A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World’s Happiest Man, and concerns itself with deep breathing, appreciation and active meditations. A full index for the articles so far can be found at: Gift of A Million Different Things

David Stone, Writer

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Meditation #8, Meditating All The Time

One day, after listening to Mark Thornton’s Meditation In A New York Minute, I decided to incorporate the author’s principles in my daily routines. The results were startling, especially when I was able to blend appreciation practices learned from Wayne Dyer. Thornton’s message was that meditation, focused deep breathing, was easier to practice than most thought and that the total time spent doing it in the course of a day was more significant than a single block of time all at once.

Thornton was appalled at how harried people he knew in New York spent whole days shallow breathing, skimming the surface, never having a chance at pleasure. He was shocked to learn how many executives, assumed to be successful, were miserable and anxious from the moment they got out of bed in the morning. To “follow your bliss,” as Joseph Campbell advised, it was necessary to ease back and settle into deep breathing as a routine condition.

What sold me was his pointing out the many ideal opportunities available to reset. Even standing on a busy corner, waiting for the “WALK” signal, could be perfect. Pause and breath. In my work in sales, often hurrying between places in Manhattan, I found it a delight to hook up with my bliss so routinely and to reliably find my buzz, if only for a minute or two at a time. Waiting in lobbies for people with whom I had appointments to turn up, I sometimes got so drunk with happiness it was a sacrifice to leave my chair.

Deborah Julian Photography, Best of The Web

Part of the reason this worked so well was that I had already established a morning half-hour of meditation. Thornton reported on the novelty in his previous job in which he was the only person “in bliss” at corporate gatherings. I began to get things like that, sitting through meetings in our conference room, the table covered with notepads and laptops, everyone talking at once, while I silently soared with happiness. The experience was often comical and never exposed. Something out the window drew my appreciative attention, the wall of Manhattan skyscrapers lined up down Seventh Avenue as far as Penn Station, a gust-driven flurry slanting snowflakes up the streets, or the flow of traffic jogging out of midtown. I’m afraid it cost me some focus on the business at hand, but if you’ve ever spent much time in regular business meetings, you’ll understand how little it’s usually possible to miss.

My workday, after starting out catching up on the news, writing and meditating, started with a walk along the estuary separating our river-bound community from Manhattan. Driven by tides, the mass of water might be traveling in either direction or even still. It’s color changed with the weather; it’s energy with the tug of the moon thousands of miles away. I stayed as close to the water as possible, eschewing the broader promenade for a niche space that hugged the seawall a few feet lower. Above the city roar, I heard the splash and churn of the water. Gulls rested on the rails, jumping into flight when I got too far inside their safety zone. Other seabirds floated casually. Squirrels and, occasionally, as well as less playfully, rodents dashed between buildings and barriers, the rats darting onto rocks below the seawall. Other commuters joined me in the rush hour march to the subway. I pulled up my mantra and breathed it while intentionally appreciating the many things I witnessed around me.

“Abundance in life” was the first set of words I learned to repeat with every breath. I added “in life” because I meant so much more than simple wealth. Wealth I wanted, but I also wanted friends, love, community, a broader understanding about how creativity can lead our lives and a complete connection with the deeper reality I believed waited nearby. No matter how cold the winter morning or how distracting passing conversations might be, I held up my smile and reminded myself that “abundance in life” included everything that mattered to me.
Optimism Junkie No Detour shirt
Optimism Junkie No Detour by DeborahJulianArt
People who go through life picking out rights and wrongs, positives and negatives, are everywhere. They are far more common than people like me who thinking establishing dichotomies is an outdated, unproductive way to register reality. Making the usual value choices is an ingrained practice that keeps us stuck in place.

Others see a polluted river where no one is allowed to swim and few dare eat the fish. Condemning the underside of the industrial revolution that once uplifted all of humanity is a popular sport. I see a still surging powerhouse rubbing the shores of a great city. This artery once gave passage to ships carrying American grain to starving populations in Europe, and the wealth generated made our country the most prosperous in the world. I see history. This once pristine waterway has been visited by many polluters and passersby, each of whom left marks more subtle and complex than dirty waters. These marks, whether litter in a gutter or sparks in the sky, recorded the passage of time. Everything evolves. Where others see filth, I see change, and change is driven among humans by ideas and new ways of thinking. Residue is inevitable. We know what’s needed to clean up the estuary, and while a single, massive effort has never been considered affordable, incremental changes have gradually made conditions safer and cleaner. As our dependence on industry wanes and our knowledge about pollutants and their control grows, we may yet see children diving into blue waters to refresh on a summer day.

Dwelling on anything as a problem simply secures it. Imagining, instead, a future when technology and commitment have bettered conditions helps create an environment where changes we once thought impossible or too big are fertilized.

I don’t know why being stuck in traditional positions is so common, although it probably is encouraged by fear and insecurity. If you’re stuck, but happy, good luck. If you’d rather thin out the personal viscosity and pursue bliss, it’s time to jump on board now.
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