Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tides and Carmel-Covered Vocal Cords

File photo
Calvin has caramel-covered vocal cords, or so it seems to those of us listening to his guided meditation. This strapping, midwest-born, southern-bred staffing sargeant is practicing to become a spiritual director. 

After finding God in the valley, he's been steady climbing hilltops and often shares the experience with others on his journey towards a better life.

Some of us, guinea pigs really, have been journeying with him experimenting with stillness through meditation - a concept quite radical in this noisy world though certainly not new. 

As we lurch toward serenity, many of us are discovering a few of the fruitful gifts of this ancient practice: lowered heart rates; better concentration; patience, community; humility before a God of our understanding. More shall be revealed, it is rumored.

Calvin led us down a path recently towards the ocean to ponder the tide.

 "Listen to the sound of the water, as it meets the shore," the carmel cords compelled. 

We listened. We felt the hot sand and churning water beneath our toes. We breathed. We tried to "hear the sound of God listening to us," as a fellow traveler once coined.

Stomachs growled. Legs shifted. Throats cleared. Nasal passages wheezed. (Sounds of life, in all their glory, are not quiet, dainty things. Internal stillness, Janet! Inhale. Exhale.)
I tried to let go of the image running across my mind's movie screen of my teenage children laughing at me trying to sit still in a roomful of strangers. And. Being. Quiet.

A vision: a collage of friends and foe alike, who know me to be a chatty Cathy, a nervous Nellie, the princess of perpetual motion, laughing at me. I gently let that image roll by, as instructed. There's a lot of reference to water. I tried not to think of my bladder's business, having just slammed a 16-oz cup of decaf tea.

"Perhaps you're standing on the beach at high tide,' Calvin coos, 'or maybe it's low tide. Just be still and take in the moment."

Ha! Tell that to the ping-pong Olympians inside my head!! 

Breathe, Janet. 

When life seems like a series of twisted roads and painful rest stops with no end in sight, it feels like God is testing us. No, that's not honest. It feels like God has vacated the premises. Hasta luego, sucker!  A good soulful friend might use this time to remind us that the hard times pass; the good times will come again. I need to be that good friend to myself and to others. Tides go out, tides come in.

Mindfulness meditation is not an easy exercise for those with chatty minds and troubled hearts. But, as many of us are discovering, it is essential for our spiritual and emotional development. 

Call it Ground Zero for monkey minds. Call it meditation. Call it prayer. Call it communal listening. It probably doesn't matter what you call it, as long as you open your heart and mind to the idea that, with a little faith and a lot of practice, it is possible to experience stillness amidst the raging sea.

It also doesn't hurt to hear this lesson through carmel-covered vocal cords.


  1. For is low tide and the beach goes on forever. The sun is in the perfect place in the sky. I am warm, not hot, but toasty warm...unlike today!
    I am still for just a moment. It is nice!

  2. Wonderful post! I'm glad Jen directed me over here, and I can relate to much of what you say.

    I don't find it easy to still my mind and meditate, but I am getting better with practice. And maybe the advancing years have something to do with it, too. I am not in as big a hurry as I once was.

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  3. Beautiful thoughts. I'm also one of those who, during yoga meditation, has to force my thoughts to slow, and liiiiisten tooooo mmyyyy breeaatthhing... Sounds easy enough, but it takes more practice than I have given it. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and take in the moment. So many good ones go by unnoticed!

  4. Dear Janet,

    Welcome to the world of bloggers. Any friend of Jen's is a friend of ours! My blogging friends have become my touchstone, because even though we are all individuals, we are alike in so many ways. We live in all parts of the world, but we come together with just on click of the mouse.

    When I feel a little punk, I can always find a post that cheers me up or makes me think about more than just myself.

    We will visit you often, and you can always visit us as well.


    Judie McEwen,
    Rogue Artist!

  5. Somehow... no matter how restless my mind... the ocean shore always stills my heart and mind... I always find myself still before God... in awe of Him. now if I could just move to the beach... ;)

    visiting from Jen... beautifully expressed thoughts! looking forward to following!

  6. Fabulous blog...thank you for sharing about meditation!!!