What is Meditation?

The other day I was having a spirited conversation with some friends around the knitting table and the topic of being present in our daily interactions came up.  A lightbulb flashed for one friend, and he immediately started talking about meditating and this app for your phone that helped you get started, and that the guiding voice had a fantastic New Zealand accent, which is appealing all on its own.

When people you like are that enthusiastic about something, it's difficult to ignore it.  So I downloaded the free app the morning after an evening of nine 9 year olds sleeping over and settled onto my bed, prepared to be grounded and balanced for ten minutes, and therefore prepared for a day of dealing with tired cranky people.

I lasted 1 minute and 43 seconds.

So I tried again the next day, figuring I was too tired to focus.  That time I made it through 2 minutes and 10 seconds and then decided I'd rather walk the dog.

Why didn't it work for me?  I puzzled this as I walked the dog this morning.  The air was heavy with rain, warm against my face;  the trees are starting to turn color and my feet, wet with the earlier rain, squished against the pavement.  I felt present then, as the raindrops settled on my face and hair and collected acorns weighed down my pockets, and comfortable in the world.  Maybe that is what I didn't like about formal meditation, that I was trying to force my body into this uncomfortable space, being hyper-aware of the internal instead of how my being intersects with external forces in the outside world.

When I was skating all the time, my favorite time on the ice was right after I had passed a skill test and was ready to learn a new dance or set of skills.  Challenging my body to work in tandem to counter a turn or execute a series of steps required absolute focus and concentration.  Never was I as aware of my connection to the ice through the skate blade as I was at the beginning of the learning process.  It was frustrating and exhilarating and endlessly satisfying.

In my life now, I find knitting is the closest I will ever come to true meditation.  When I watch the needles work in and out, creating new stitches that becomes a fabric that becomes a garment, I am soothed by the mechanical nature of the task.  I can challenge myself by learning new techniques, or I can feel comfortable in a social situation with my mindless project.  I can let my chaotic mind run wild while my fingers are busy or I can listen to a story and being taken out of myself.

Knitting is my meditation. 

Want to make it yours?