Monday, December 28, 2015

Meditation Monday: A Story Left

 By Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC
In an effort to take the “manic” out of “Monday,” this weekly post explores techniques, issues, latest research, and other thoughts on meditation. Nancy facilitates a weekly meditation group at The Awakening Center. For more information, contact her at 773.929.6262, extension 17 or

In the Tuesday night meditation group, I like ending the practice with a poem. I feel like this gives the right brain a little bit extra to chew on even when the meditation is over. In the most recent group, I shared the poem “Deciphering the Alphabet” by Francine Sterle. Descriptions of animal tracks, weather, and terrain remind us that our lives are always changing. This is the good news and the bad news. Whatever is happening now—joy, suffering, pain, happiness—only exists in the present and will eventually become something different. Perhaps the joy will become deeper. Or hopefully the pain will subside. But the sweet may turn bitter.

This is the double-edged sword that can both encourage and undermine hope. We do have a say in this process though. We are not simply passively waiting to see what shape our experience will take. Our suffering can either deepen or be relieved because of our choices.

About halfway in the poem is this stanza that I was particularly struck by: 
Everything that moves leaves a story. No story
            can exist by itself.
 Upon the first reading, I misread the first sentence as “Everything that moves has a story.” But notice Sterle uses the word leaves.

This critical stanza places the impermanence of nature within a context—we are not alone. Everything that moves—which is, well, everything—leaves traces or remnants. Our actions affect others—thus the importance of the word leaves.

Our experience of meditation parallels this poem. It differs each time we close our eyes and begin deeply breathing; and the practice may change from moment to moment. But with it, we also create and then leave a story.

As you move through our life, what story do you wish to leave?

Enjoy your practice.

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