For years now, I’ve tried to make meditation a part of my every day life. Quickly, I moved from one of those people who thought “How can I possibly find the time in my busy schedule?” to “How can I not?” Since my early attempts, I’ve used basic breathing techniques to conquer panic attacks, anxiety and overthinking while cultivating a sense of peace and mindfulness I never imagined possible.
Earlier today, as we boarded the Ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle. I found the perfect opportunity to meditate. With nothing but the sound of waves crashing alongside the boat, the subtle breeze wafting through the car window and the gentle rocking of the car due to the ferry’s pushing it’s way across Elliot Bay. I found myself removed from the thoughts of the days, weeks and months that have crowded my head and battled for space and permanence in mind. The feeling was of warmth and peace. I became so completely calm and at ease. That I hardly noticed the ferry attaching itself to the dock. As I heard the announcement of our arrival over the loudspeaker. I nodded over to my wife to notice that she too had fallen into the spell. She sleepily asked, “When we could do it again?” I was quick to reply, “As soon as we can.” as we headed home from our day’s trip.
The more I learn about and inevitably embrace meditation. The more I want my friends and loved ones to join me. The most important thing I’ve learned in all this is that you really don’t need a special room, place, pillow or chant to enjoy it’s many benefits. All you need is a few minutes to allow yourself to check out and unplug. I highly recommend it.
Following a hearty breakfast that included Johnny Cakes, bacon, eggs and bottomless cups of freshly brewed coffee. We decided to stay close to home to explore nearby Washington Lake. With most of our recent weekends being rain soaked affairs that allow us the excuse to take a good book and the computer to the local coffee house. The sun drenched ones are rare in these parts and therefore wasteful to take for granted. So with our late start and lack of serious plans accepted. We decided to stay close, take it easy and take advantage of what our immediate area had to offer. It goes without saying that some of life’s greatest pleasures can be found right under our noses. Whether it be short walk to your backyard. The hammock on your porch or the lake that lies just five minutes from the place you call home. Sometimes, small steps and short trips can be as and even more rewarding than the bigger ones. As my Dad would say, “Take it Ease.”
Not a day goes by when we don’t mention how much we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to move out west and experience life in ways we might not have back east. All things considered, our move to Seattle and in particular Columbia City , has offered more than its share of rewards. Great food, weather and plenty of things to or not to do. That said, not a day goes by without talk about Seattle being a two year pit stop on the way to another town, city, state or country. Being one who lived his entire life on the East Coast. The idea of traveling to different places and living light, really appeals to me. Who knows where life brings me. If I can be happy and inspire, I’ll take it. (The pictures below were taken this morning at the park adjacent to where I am currently living in Columbia City, Seattle.)
As someone who’s always been in love with photography. I often find myself enamored with the styles and techniques I myself have yet to learn. With long exposures and night photography being a long time personal inspiration of mine. I felt extremely thankful when a friend and fellow photographer shared some easily applicable information with me. Being one who tends to crave the company of others as well as subjects to photograph. Time has taught me that time alone, solitude and the peace it often provides offer me more time to learn and grow. Something that almost immediately presents itself when working with long exposures Having only experimented with the concept on occasion over the last couple of weeks. I quickly realized the therapeutic rewards of these rare moments. As I stood there. The only time I really felt the least bit uneasy was when friendly neighbors stopped for a moment to say hello or if you’d believe it, to talk shop about gear. That hour or so where it was just me, my Canon 5D Mark III and my tripod was all the meditation one could ask for.
Everyone seems to have their own form of meditation. Something to help find the calm and focus needed to cleanse their mind of the clutter, stress and anxiety they deal with on a day to day basis. Personally, I have explored many channels in recent years. Many of which work very well .
One of mantras I’ve adopted over the last year or so is my nightly walk. One of the things that helped us fall in love with our current home is it’s industrial surroundings. With all the bridges, train yards and factories nearby. One could not ask for more character and personality. Watching the sun set over such a beautiful landscape brings me a sense of peace I can’t quite describe and hope to never take for granted. If I was able to dole out advice to anyone. I would recommend that whenever possible. Find those private moments where you can enjoy being alone. Breathe deep and be in the moment for as long as you can.
While my wife and me are nowhere near retirement age. Our thoughts about the next step and where we see ourselves in the future remains a constant topic of conversation. More and more these days. I find myself looking to simplify my life. Less things, less people and less worry about the things that keep my mind occupied from one day to the next. When I look at the future. I see myself living in an environment opposite to the one I’ve lived most of my life. Another country, a different culture and mindset. Something close to the water, the country or even a farm. True, the future is unwritten. However, that will never stop my from composing the script.
Last week I had a representative from a local painting company over to get an estimate on our loft foyer area. In the hour or so he was here, we went over ideas about color schemes, wallpaper removal and the stripping of a concrete column located at the left end of the room. It was apparent that the company had worked in the building in the past. As he began to leave, he asked curiously about the extensive damage in the lobby and common areas. I took my time explaining how the pipes had frozen causing a flood while putting the building on an all day fire alert. I told him about the alarm and sirens that wailed for hours and how the inescapable flashing lights in the loft and hallways triggered my first seizure in years. He stood there in a frozen state, captured by my story, asking questions along the way. I had no intention of keeping him longer than I had. Nor did I have any motive in sharing my history with seizures. It wasn’t until he told me about his beautiful sister’s long history with grand mal seizures and depression that I did. He told me how witnessing his sisters seizures unfold as a young teen terrified him. How, to this day, those memories still haunt him.
I shared my experiences with him on how I eventually got off the medication roller coaster after years of them adding miserable side effects to my somewhat manageable seizures. Taking more holistic path with diet and more spiritual approaches such as meditation. How both doctors and my own family were less than supportive of my choice. And ultimately, how I went from having three to five seizures a week to about a half dozen in the twenty years since.
As for depression, while I have yet to find any cure (Believe me, I’m no rocket scientist.) I told him that, in my own experience. Knowing that you are not, in any way, alone is key. It’s also important to understand that, no matter how I might feel at the moment. I’m always able to convince myself that I will most likely feel a lot better in a few hours, days or weeks later. My regiment depends on staying busy and creative whenever possible. Fresh air and even the most brief exchanges can change the course of a day. The smile on his face said it all and I think the amount of time he spent lingering in my doorway was more than enough evidence that even the smallest exchanges can change someone’s outlook on things. In closing, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to share our experiences and history with one another. We are all connected to one another on one level or another. Large or small, every word we speak can go a long way while carrying a heavy load.