Today I didn’t meditate.
I didn’t intend this. I intended to wake up early, do some yoga, thirty minutes mediation then off to work at school.
However, I slept through my alarm and woke up fifteen minutes before I needed to leave the house.
I was disappointed, but happy I still had time to make it to work. I threw some clothes on and after making time for breakfast, left ten minutes later than I would have ideally wanted.
This left me an hour’s journey to complete in fifty minutes.
I worried. I started to panic. And then I saw my own mind.
“Does it matter?” I asked myself, “That I might be late? If the teachers think badly of me, will their thoughts hurt me? Is it possible I could drive there quickly, but still stay calm, stay with myself, as if I had just meditated?”
It might just work.
On the drive, I prayed that I would have an easy journey and arrive in time. I started to play Pema Chodron’s Bodhisattva Mind, and started absorbing her wonderful teachings.
Then I got a text.
The text was from a friend, in trouble. She was heartbroken at a relationship meltdown and wanted somewhere to stay at short notice. She sounded really in need in the message.
I turned off Pema Chodron and as I drove, I practised for my friend. I imagined breathing in her distress, sending that energy down into the earth, and breathing out peace, to her.
I sang mantras and sent compassion to her, and a few other friends having a difficult time right now. I decided to ask my landlady’s permission to offer my friend the bottom bunk below me at my lodging.
As I drove, I noticed that I also made good choices. I drove swiftly and deftly, without causing hazard but at full speed.
When I arrived, I was fifteen minutes later than agreed with staff, but twenty minutes before I would work with the children. I thanked the forces that be for answering my prayers.
I still had plenty of time to set up. In fact, I had time to set up, make a drink and text my friend the offer of a bunk.
I felt incredibly peaceful. I had not meditated or done yoga, but felt like I had practised for hours.
During this day, I had such wonderful clarity. I saw efficient solutions to problems, collaborated well with staff and saw beauty in so much of the children’s work.
I found myself able to have time to complete my work successfully and able to have a text dialogue with my distressed friend.
I felt thankful all day to the teachings and yoga and meditation training that have allowed me this great peace of mind.
Later on that day, I reflected. Why was it that I felt so peaceful, even though I had missed my meditation?
It remembered the Buddhist tradition honoured three paths to enlightenment: meditation, compassion and wisdom.
Perhaps during my drive, the mantras and practice I had performed were compassionate. And Pema Chodron’s audiobook is full of wisdom. They must have helped.
I also reflected that there is something more important than meditation.
And that is the great peace, the true nature of ourselves that we may find through meditation. The goal, if you like, is not to meditate, but to find our true self. To find our peace.
In Donna Farhi’s fantastic Bringing Yoga To Life, she says we must remember that anything that we should never tether ourselves to anything that can be lost in our practice. If our security lies in our ability to perform an incredible posture, what happens when we suffer injury, or get old? Do we lose our security?
Donna Farhi suggests we tether ourselves instead to the “unchanging core of our being”, for it is only with the infinite that we can truly realise our security.
I want to thank Donna Farhi, my teachers and guides and my friends in need for the great lesson I learned today.
I learned that the rituals of meditation and yoga are just signposts to my real nature, the infinite truth.
I’m not about to throw my practice book out of the window. Meditation and yoga are my training ground. But that is all. What they are training me for is that amazing, infinite, all-encompassing light of peace.
And that peace lies within me, within all of us; in our deeper, true nature.
All the time.