By Tammy T. Stone
I’ve been living in Japan for the past few years, and my favourite time to meditate is in the morning, before or after yoga—or sometimes, on really cold winter mornings huddled up in the futon with a huge comforter wrapped around me!
Eyes closed, observing breath and sensations, sharing love with the world—this is the practice and the aspiration!
There’s a compelling belief that the seeds of our spiritual development are always within us, and we know they are ripening as we find ourselves pursuing deeper meaning in our lives. While I’d been drawn to meditation before (I remember being really absorbed by an introduction to Buddhism book during breaks at a jeans store job way back when, and being attracted to a Tibetan Buddhist temple around the corner from my apartment in Toronto like it was a magnet) it wasn’t until I left Canada for extensive travels in South and Southeast Asia in my mid-thirties that I felt a deep-seated need to explore meditation.
I also felt a strong desire to go into retreat, to really see and face some of my inner turmoil; my old coping mechanisms, primarily writing and journaling, were not enough anymore. A chance (?) encounter with a guesthouse neighbor at precisely the right time led me to try my first 10-day silent meditation retreat, a Vipassana course that was profoundly intense and affecting. Just weeks afterward, I met my now-husband, Takeshi, who had just completed a four-month stay at a Vipassana center in New Zealand.
Over the next three years, we traveled in India and Thailand and did several meditation and yoga retreats in various traditions, growing a deep affinity for practices that involve observing the breath and bodily sensations with the aim of enhancing concentration and understanding the nature of impermanence and emptiness. Along with yoga, I find great joy my meditation practice, a time I can leave my very busy mind off the cushion as I work to cultivate silence within.
The more I meditate, the more I come to see what a powerful tool it is in getting us to take a step back from our enmeshment with our own minds and the often toxic stories they tell us. Giving ourselves the chance to cultivate a peaceful space within and engaging with ourselves without judgment is an immense gift indeed!
Photo: Tammy T. Stone