By Kellie Schorr
Forget-Me-Not: Meditation as Remembrance
The needle pulled back and forth through the linen with a gentle “thup, thup, thup.”
Most evenings she could lean back in her spot the couch and listen to the soothing percussion until approaching sleep slowed her hand. Not tonight. Tonight she’s listening to the chippering of her granddaughters while her nerves stretch tighter than the fabric in the cross-stitch hoop. Her own children grown, she thought this part of her journey was done. Then came the girls when their mother was incarcerated for possession with intent to sell.
“It must be so hard to have a daughter in prison,” the ladies at the Auxiliary coo. She nods politely, biting her lip to keep from telling them it’s not hard at all.For the first time in years she knows her youngest child is alive and where she is, that she has food and a bed, and that her children do too. No, it’s not hard to have a daughter in prison. It’s just hard to explain.
“Grandma,” Haley says, putting a sticky finger on the purple thread Forget-Me-Not with tiny green leaves, she’s been stitching on all evening. “It’s weird that mom’s your daughter.”
“I know it’s hard to believe, but I was a young woman, once,” she answers, hoping to cut the conversation short.
“No, I mean, you, Aunt Elise, Aunt Shirley, you’re all so…so, like, good and together and mom is so…you know.Why isn’t she more like you guys?”
“Your mom is like us, sweetie,” she says. “She just forgot that for a while.”
We all breathe
Despite what media would have us believe, meditation is not a magic carpet, a wonder drug for stress reduction, or a chemical-free bliss picnic. Meditation exists so we don’t forget who we are—at the core, in the heart. Where it counts. Before the great awakening of “no self” can carry us across the dharma sea, we must connect our true self. Sometimes, in lives full of chaos, pain or fear, we must rediscover our good nature, or meet that true self for the very first time.
This is why we meditate.
If we strip away the layers of experience, conditioning, memories, our teacher’s lessons, our father’s hairline, our best dreams, our car wrecks, our trophies, our scars—we are left with nothing but breath. That’s where we begin. That’s where we begin again. And again.
Inhaling, we take in the fact there is life to receive. Exhaling we remember we have something to give. No matter who you are, where you are, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, we all have been given to; we all have things to give. We all breathe.
The farther life takes you from the heart of who you are, the harder it is to look at what’s been left on the roadside. Relationships. Careers. Dreams. Trust. Love. Your life becomes a before/after slideshow, and you’re sitting there, waiting for the next click, cringing.
The breath of meditation won’t transform your life into cozy mystery with a perfect resolution, or even a RomCom where you don’t know if it’s going to end in forever love, but it sure looks like it could. Focusing on the breath is simply going take you past the slides to the template called “today,” where you can say with clarity, “Right now, it’s like this.”
There are no old breaths.
Basic meditation focuses on the breath, following it like a hammock swinging back and forth in a slight breeze. The air is clean, it’s clear. Most importantly it is real, and it is now. Once we exhale, the breath goes into the fabric of the larger universe. That breath will never come again. A new one will take its place. Just as a jammed computer benefits from a restart, a life disconnected from the inherent core of goodness forged within can be found in a new breath. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences, or there isn’t work left to do. It does mean meditation’s breath can help you clear a path so you can begin, or begin again.
We all have those times where we look at the swirling entanglement of decisions and regrets, wrong turns and right actions with unintended results and say, “What was I thinking?” or “I don’t even know who I am anymore.” We all, at some point, forget who we are. A daily meditation practice can help those times happen less often, but any moment is a good time to sit and breathe.
It doesn’t have to be formal. You don’t have to follow a certain style, know its Tibetan name or chant words you can’t understand. You don’t need a cushion. You don’t have to be spiritual, smart, or stoic. Start with the basics. Find who you are. Breathe.
There are no old breaths. There are also no wasted ones. Every single inhalation is another chance to remember, reconnect, renew, and release. This is why we meditate.
Kellie Schorr works as a commissioned novelist who writes mystery genre novels for publication services. Her published writing credentials also include: journal articles, short stories, and a two-year stint writing for a web-comic. Kellie’s fiction is represented by the Kathryn Green Literary Agency. Kellie has been practicing meditation for over 15 years. She studies Dharma and took Refuge vows in the Shambhala lineage of Buddhism. When she’s not sitting down to write, or sitting on her cushion, she enjoys comic books, computer games, tea, and movies. She lives and works in rural Virginia with her partner, Cathy, and three beagles. Her favorite word is chiaroscuro.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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