Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
She knew from the smell when she opened the front door that her mother was cooking cabbage rolls again. The hallway and the stairwell smelled heavily of cabbage when she came home from school. For her it was the reassurance of a meal to eat, but for others who visited her after school it was foreign. They always asked when they arrived at the landing in front of her upstairs apartment, “What is that smell?” Her parents were both from Poland, and her mother was an excellent cook. She used cabbage almost every day because it was cheap and healthy. Audrey was both proud and ashamed of her heritage and her ethnic diet at home. She wanted to blend in with kids at school who ate much differently than her family. Her mom was really the one with the mad chef skills, but she was ashamed of that cuciferous odor coming from the kitchen all the time.
Her home and the family income were average for the time and the place. Audrey felt that she and almost everyone she knew in school would be classified as “middle class”. There were fewer class distinctions in elementary school than there would be later in life. She had friends, boyfriends, and was popular. In the 1950’s in our tiny town the children were given relative freedom to do as we pleased until dinner time. Friendships that began on the whiffle ball field or in a snow fort would often conclude with an invitation to eat dinner at another kid’s home. Most mothers would consent if an extra child was brought home, but permission had to be granted from the visitor’s parents. In this way we checked out each other’s family dining habits and parental norms. It was a very common practice. She held back from accepting invitations because she did not want to reciprocate. This was the beginning of her social withdrawal.
Now that she is back at home taking care of her parents in their home she wishes she had learned to make stuffed cabbage the way her mom did. She is an adequate cook, but does not know any of her grandparents’ traditional recipes from the old country. She buys frozen foods and prepared packaged meals. A certain amount of guilt consumes her as she spoon feeds frozen corndogs to her mom. She does not understand what her mother is telling her in Polish, and she feels a loss that cannot be recovered.
We may not have had formal training in meditation as children, but we probably had profound spiritual experiences as a natural part of childhood. Contemplation is a normal activity. When life is undisturbed we contemplate our surroundings, our connection to the universe, and more. If you scan your past for times during which you felt connected, in a state of grace, or full of bliss you will find them. By bringing back the feeling of spontaneous enlightening experiences we might be able to recreate that magic today. Our conscious minds often cling to our problems, our challenges, and our individual specialty suffering, keeping these wounds close to the surface. Through practice we can train the mind to hold on to the positive, unexplained flashes of light and insight, treating them as our natural state. Bringing contemplation and spacious states of mind into our practice is liberating. The long term benefits can be compared to physical strength or agility in the body. We don’t know what demands the future will put on that preparation. We can only learn when an event challenges that strength. We know we will encounter stressful situations and loss in our lives. A meditative state of mind is the very best investment/tool to cope with adversity that can be acquired.
There are many forms of meditation. A qualified teacher is not always available, but can show the student how to create the transition into mindfulness. If you believe that you have never meditated, let your memory go over the special times of youth that stand out in your memory today. You will probably be able to identify a few enchanted, enlightened times that brought you a glimpse into eternity. That lightness is a state that is available to you always. What is required is a steady practice. Walking, chanting, sitting….the style does not matter as long as it suits the user. The pure state of bliss meditation brings the practitioner is the armor that protects the mind from stress and worry. It is the true fountain of youth.
Wisdom springs from meditation;
without meditation wisdom wanes.
Having known these two paths of progress and decline,
let one so conduct oneself that one’s wisdom may increase.
When I returned to Oakmont, PA this year to see my old friends from childhood I was not thinking about politics or history. I was intrigued to find out what my old home and school looked like, and how my old friends are today. The reunion was a resounding success and a big memory jog. We toured the school where I attended grades K-4, then returned for 7-8th grades. I left after the 8th grade to live in Venezuela as a petroleum princess. This week as we watch the footage and remember where we were when we heard the news JFK had been shot I can clearly picture it. We were in the gym, which had a large dividing wall between the girls and boys for the hour. When we finished the wall was always removed at the end of the school day. On that day when the wall was parted and we saw they boys we were also listening to the loudspeaker system announce to use that the president had been shot in Dallas. It was surreal and many of us started to cry. I am not sure if I cried or not, but I remember being in shock. We talked about it when we were on tour of the school and I had almost a flashback of the feeling on that day. We went home and learned that he had died. My parents did not vote for him but they were very upset about the assassination. After 50 years we all have a chance to process what happened to us and to the world on that day in Dallas. We may have been 8th graders but we all had mature feelings about the frightful news about our country.