Tamiko Nimura is a longtime Source Yoga student and partiipated in this summer’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction series. She has shared her experience through a series of blog posts. This is post #4. Read post #1, post #2, and post #3.
On the last day of class, I arrive a few minutes early. I set up my mat, my bolster and blanket. I add a chair for seated meditation. (After years of yoga, I thought I would be fine sitting on the floor, but once I tried out a chair—perfect.) Others drift in, set up their own places, and chat quietly. Most of us are filling out our evaluation forms; some of us lying on the ground, others sitting in chairs.
We start with a body scan meditation, moving almost seamlessly to a mindful yoga practice and some seated meditation. And there is some time at the end for everyone to share a little bit of reflection on what they have gained from the course. It’s been eight weeks, and I’ll miss being in that circle, with that much attention to collective silence and even some peace.
Here is a version of what I said:
When I think about this class, I think about three images and they all involve water.
The first image has to do with ducks.
When I was working full-time, a colleague once said to me, “You remind me of a duck.” “A duck?” I asked. “Oh yes,” she said. “You remind me of one of those ducks that just seems to glide along on the surface of the water, everything going swimmingly. But then underneath the surface—“ and here, she used her hands to imitate a duck’s feet, “paddling like mad.”
At the time I laughed, but it also gave me pause. It was an apt description, and I thought about it again at the beginning of this class. I might give some people the impression that I’m gliding along smoothly, but in reality I’m paddling like crazy like so many of us. Now, don’t get me wrong—I am grateful for so much of my life, and I don’t want to minimize that. Compared to the stressors in others’ lives, personal and professional, much of my life is easy.
But I have also been more stressed and more tired than I want to admit. And the ways that I don’t admit that to myself are worthy of my attention.
The second image has to do with the swimming pool.
I’ve meditated at the pool with my kids, believe it or not. (Don’t worry—they are old enough to swim on their own, around lifeguards.) Several times this summer, I was at the wading pool and sat quietly in the water. Closing my eyes, listening to the water falling around me, the sounds of the water splashing, feeling the sunlight warm on my eyelids. Swaying gently when other kids are running in the water around me. I’ve meditated at the wave pool, and it’s a beautiful image now, the ruffled waves coming into and crashing, the pull of the water as it receded. I’ve even taken time to meditate on the ferry. Those seconds stretch into minutes, the minutes into time without measure.
The third image involves a drink of water.
One day I had a terrible headache. I was cranky, tired, but trying to push through the day. I went to get a coffee at the market. When my barista friend asked how I was doing, I was surprisingly honest. “Actually I have the worst headache,” I confessed. “Aw, I’m sorry to hear that,” she said. “Do you maybe need some water? Sometimes I get headaches when I’m really dehydrated.”
At that moment, a glass of water sounded fantastic. “Here,” she said, and she went and got me the biggest cup the cafe had, some 24 ounces of iced water. I drank it all, slowly. And the headache went away. I felt so much better.
So what does this have to do with meditation? Over the last few weeks I have noticed that I do set an intention to meditate every day. I’ve have a few minutes in the middle of the day, or early evening, and think, Hey! I can sneak in some meditation time! And so I set the timer on my phone, and I go, and I sit, and I breathe. And I’ve slept better, and even when I’ve had episodes of anxiety or insomnia, I’ve started to flex that muscle of self-compassion that meditation has begun to strengthen. Start again. Keep practicing.
I think about meditation now like I think about that glass of water. It’s a basic need—“simple, but not easy,” as Erin has told us. But when I take the time—even a few minutes or a few breaths—to slow down, breathe, pay attention to what my body needs, I feel refreshed. That’s about as good an argument for meditation as any I’ve read or heard, or felt.