Archive for August 22nd, 2010

My Peace and Joy

I have this hang up about books made into movies.  I will not go see a movie if I haven’t read the book first.  When I saw the trailer for Eat, Pray, Love, I was intrigued.  It looked like an entertaining movie.  When the bookfirst came out, it was a huge deal and every day as I stood outside the neighborhood book store waiting for the bus, I was faced with the book and a choice.  To buy or not to buy.  To read or not to read.  I always chose the latter.  It just didn’t seem like my kind of book.  I couldn’t have told you why, but, to quote my kids, I just wasn’t “feeling it.”

Nevertheless, when it comes to self-imposed rules, I am pretty rigid. So, this month, I found myself reading Eat, Pray, Love.  The entire time, I wrestled with smug self-righteousness (I knew this book wasn’t for me) and a desire to analyze it compared to who I am and what makes me happy.

In some ways, I found it very difficult to relate to the author.  She seemed to wallow in her own misery, looking for someone or something to make her happy.  I couldn’t commiserate.  But watching her struggle through what seemed to me like self-imposed misery, I realized how happy I have been most of my adult life.  The interesting thing is that the very thing that brings me the most joy is the very thing the author was running away from.

Through my marriage and my children, I have found a joy I never knew existed.  Having grown up in a dysfunctional family, I knew little of the love and joy a family could offer.  Having seen the pain my mother seemed to experience because of her children, I was unprepared for the pure happiness and light that my children brought into my life.

As the book progressed and the author made her way to the “pray” portion of her memoir, I found it difficult to relate to her meditation and her thoughts on what meditating meant to her.  The truth is that I have always thought of meditation as forced relaxation and that has never appealed to me.  I seldom participate in a yoga class, but when I do and I get one of the instructors who is all Zen-like, I cringe in anticipation of the forced relaxation I know will follow the other portion of the class.  I spend that time lying on the floor thinking of all the things I need to get done at home and usually leave the class more stressed out than I was when I walked in.

But this morning, after I had eaten my breakfast, read the paper and checked my emails, I did what I love to do most in the world.  I made my way back up the stairs and crawled into bed beside my still sleeping four year old.  As I lay beside him, I noticed my breath mimicking his, my body relaxing and my mind clearing.  It was with the clearing of my mind that this article began to form.  And suddenly I realized that, in my own way, I do meditate.  In the moments I lie relaxed beside my son my mind often empties its worries and brings me the stories I share with my readers.

I also realized that I meditate in this way throughout my day.  That though I am not sitting in a yoga pose, I am meditating when I am running or riding or swimming.  I have often shared that exercise for me is much more than just physical, but thinking about it this morning I realized it is my “Zen” time.  It is the time I allow myself each day to let go of my worries and to analyze what is happening in my life and what those things mean to me or might mean to others.

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