As a child of middle class parents, I grew up with a strong work ethic. And though my father was not “blue collar,” we lived and got by with plenty of manual effort. Every one of my father’s four boys pitched in. We mowed the lawn with a push mower (and later, an electric one), shoveled snow, set and washed dishes, scrubbed floors, counters and ovens… In the summer we had to finish our chores before we could go out and hike, play ball or swim. So, it has always been hard for me to just sit, except to study. I have always been more comfortable on my feet, at least poised for work.
So it has come with a great deal of discomfort that I am learning to meditate. It’s “just” sitting. In meditation, I am not helping anyone, making money or studying to advance myself. And, like others not advanced in meditation, I am more likely to fall asleep than just “be.”
But, the more I meditate as an opportunity to observe my thoughts and feelings, the more I do see some benefit to “just” sitting. I am also learning to accept that “just” sitting is not “just sitting,” as in “lazy.”
This morning a word popped into my head: “Marinade.” “That’s a great concept for holiday meals,” I thought. Then… “Marinades are important for delicious meals.” Then… “That’s why meditating is so good for us. We marinade.”
A marinade is known for layering in flavor; but it is also good for making subtle flavors more noticeable. In meditation, the subtleties of our thoughts, feelings and motivations come to the surface. They arise with opportunity to be seen and not judged. Experienced and not attached. Known and left to be. Meditation marinade. (My repetition of this phrase is, hopefully, a good marinade.)
When we get some time off (such as, for Thanksgiving and other holidays), a meditation marinade is easy. We fill our time one way or another and time off gives us more choices. We can choose to meditate, consider or reminisce. But can we marinade when we are back to our schedule? I believe that the metaphor of a marinade might just help us do that.
As our grandchild explained to us the other night (probably from lessons at school), “I think we should have Thanksgiving all year.” If we agree, it might be all the motivation we might need to start our thanks and every one of our “meals” of life’s many energies, with a meditation marinade.
Happy Holidays! Happy Marinading!
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