To end this month of gratitude and mindfulness, a post on meditation seems only fitting.
Last month I met Jackie. I have been curious about meditation and spirituality for some time but it was a few months ago when I was absolutely exhausted that I succumbed to that niggling feeling of needing “more”.
I was so busy contorting myself to keep all of the plates spinning and the thought that something was missing seemed idiotic. Even I recognized that I couldn’t possibly toss another in the air and sustain life at the most basic level. And then this thought: what if I just let some of these plates drop?
I am good at following rules and I held staunch to the golden one: finish what you start. So you see, the mere idea of saying “no” was counter to my beliefs.
But what if . . .
The worst that would happen is that I would cut my feet. And cuts heal.
I felt like I had known Jackie my entire life, and about 30 seconds after exchanging names, we hugged. In that embrace I felt calm.
I know, I know. Insert eye-roll here.
Sitting across from each other, I dove into my story. I explained to Jackie that I felt as though something was missing from my life. I have all the material things anyone could want. I have health. I have freedom. I have it all. But that’s not enough. I want to enjoy it. I want to live my life without feeling frenzied, harried and EXHAUSTED! But what’s worse, I felt shame for even admitting that I wanted more.
I know, I know. (There may be lots of eye-rolling here.)
Jackie sat across from me, listening to every word I said. She nodded empathetically and when I was finished with my rant, she quietly said, “I relate to how you feel.”
Jackie started to explore her spirituality when she was my age and living a very similar life. She too was baring the responsibility of child rearing and being a supportive spouse; she was also felt that there was something more like what I described.
Thirty-five years ago, Jackie discovered the power of meditation and began in earnest to study Buddhism over a decade ago, which she is quickly points out is a philosophy not a dogma.
I tell Jackie that I am just dipping my toes into this new way of thinking, that I am reading Jon Kabat-Zinn and struggling to practice Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) and in this little time, I have come to discover that “niggling feeling” has quieted, softened.
Jackie nods when she hears this. She leans forward, her blond hair brushing her cheek, and I get a good look at her face. She is radiant. Her eyes sparkle, her complexion is clear and she is focused solely on me. She never glances to her phone or excuses herself to tap out a text message. I am struck by how infrequently these kinds of interactions are becoming.
“Originally my practice was based more on mindfulness until I discovered Vipassana; in Toronto I sit with Satipanna Insight Meditation Toronto.” Jackie goes on to describe a patchwork of experiences from sweat lodges in earlier years to silent meditation retreats that define her journey of spiritual discovery.
When I ask her what benefits she feels meditation brings, she is simple with her reply. “Learning to approach life with more calm, happiness and compassion.”
“You sound so enlightened.” I say this as a compliment.
Jackie looks somewhat aghast. “Oh no! I am just a beginner.”
From My Book Shelf
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown Ph.D., LMSW
The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion and Connection by Brene Brown Ph.D., LMSW
Mindfulness For Beginners by Jon Kabbat-Zin
Everyday Blessings: the inner work of mindful parenting by Jon Kabbat-Zinn
Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race, Ph.D.
The Mindful Way Through Depression by J. Mark G. Williams
About Jacqueline Carroll:
Jackie has has worked with both Asian and Western teachers. Since 2001 Jackie has practiced specifically Vipassana Mindfulness meditation, supported by a Metta practice.
Jackie is inspired by her practice with various guiding teachers: Sayadaw U Pandita, Burma, Sayadaw U Vivekananda, Nepal, Bhante Gunaratana, USA, Ayyang Ripoche, Ayya Medhanandi, Perth, Ont, Ajhan Viradhammo, Perth, Ontario, Marcia Rose, New Mexico, Michelle Macdonald, Ottawa, Ont., Randall Baker and Jim Bedard, Satipanna Insight Meditation Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
To learn more about meditation please visit, Harmony Yoga Wellness