During the pandemic I’ve been concerned about my tendency to value doing over being, which makes sense in the context of my work as a counselor and teacher. There are needs of others to attend; focusing on my own needs for stillness and solitude can feel selfish.
But there is great value in contemplation. Finding stillness within; spending time observing rather than intervening; knowing that sometimes the best thing you can do is what you don’t; each of these may open into a perception with greater clarity. With clarity comes a calmer way of seeing and understanding the world as it is at present.
This meditation is intended to help with the experience of stillness, and includes recitation of two poems by Mary Oliver. You’ll find them just beneath the video and audio.
Today by Mary Oliver
Today I’m lying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
The Notebook by Mary Oliver
the small, pond turtle lifts its head into the air like a green toe.
It looks around.
What it sees is the whole world swirling back from darkness:
a red sun rising over the water, over the pines,
and the wind lifting, and the water-striders heading out,
and the white lilies opening their happy bodies.
The turtle doesn’t have a word for any of it—
The silky water or the enormous blue morning, or the curious affair of his own body.
On the shore I’m so busy scribbling and crossing out
I almost miss seeing him paddle away through the wet, black forest.
More and more the moments come to me: how much can the right word do?
Now a few of the lilies are a faint flamingo inside their white hearts
and there is still time to let the last roses of the sunrise float down into my uplifted eyes.