I once considered this question: Can you reach a moment of utter peace when walking in the garden? Is a glimpse of enlightenment and joy possible?
I believe that there is a misconception about meditation. About meditating. I think that some people think that they have to have an end game for sitting and humming a mantra. They carve out their fifteen or twenty minutes from an over-filled day and roll out the yoga mat in a determined effort to grasp a bit of enlightenment. Then they sit and pretzel their legs and struggle to calm a jittery mind. They cling to their word and impatiently yank back their mind when it wanders. Their meditation becomes a "practice," something that has to be "done," and they then feel accomplishment when it is completed for the day. It's my guess that there is no joy in it. There are people who don't practice this relaxing art because they think it is either too time consuming, takes too much work or requires some belief in mysticism. In truth it is none of those things.
A better way, perhaps, to think about meditation is to think of it as just being in the moment. Not something to be practiced, achieved or done.
Rather let's think about meditation as a way to relax and rest yourself. And that's all. There is nothing hard about that, is there? Nothing mystical about that, is there? I'm even going to go out on a limb and say that you don't even need a special word (some call it a 'mantra') in order to rest your mind and soul. I'm going to walk that limb even farther and say that a simple stroll through your garden can bring you the benefits of meditation -- enlightenment and joy.
The only requirement for this form of meditating is that you be present in the moment. What I mean is that you focus only on breathing the air and enjoying what your eyes see. Don't worry about your brain... it'll catch up. Don't worry that the phone call you need to return is waiting for you or that you still have six hours of work on your desk. Done in any form, meditation will not return that call nor complete that six hours of work.
Take your stroll. Just walk. Meander even. Look around. Smell the air. Touch the leaves. Admire the flowers. Notice how soft the leaf is? Notice how lovely is the bed of sweet alyssum? Stand a moment and breathe in the scent.
Do you see what just happened here? As you strolled through the garden you were just "being." You were not exerting intellectual energies or allowing your forehead to furrow in angst or anger. It's my guess that your blood pressure leveled out and your muscles relaxed. Even if for only a few moments. This is what meditation is all about: being in the present moment; a moment in time when the only thing expected of you is to breathe.
I do practice what I preach. Like many people, I find the whole idea of doing meditation bothersome, so I don't. What I do is to sit on my patio in the lawn rocker, under the maple tree and be amazed by the simplicity of a leaf. Actually one can spend eons embraced in the gorgeousness of one soft green leaf on a warm summer day. I'll sit in the rocker five minutes or fifteen. The amount of time doesn't matter as time is not the point. Being in the moment of breathing and embracing the nature around me is enough.
I can already hear the complaints: "I don't have a garden!" or "It's too cold to stroll outside!" My answer? Run a bath and soak until you raisin. Sit with your iPad or laptop and search for images of rose gardens and then just look at them. Set the timer on your smart phone or alarm clock, if you need to, for ten minutes and let that ten minutes be yours and all yours. And just breathe.
Photo by author, Linda C Smith
For me, all I truly know is that when I walk about in my yard, enjoying the morning sun and the already warming air, I feel joyous -- I'm enjoying a perfect moment in time. I don't wonder about the nature of reality or existence. Rather, I revel in the knowledge that I have the wisdom to just breathe. Could be that this is enlightenment. It certainly is joy.