“Be Still Like a Mountain and Flow Like a Great River” ~ Lao Tse
I think I’ve probably meditated for most of my life, albeit in an uncontrolled form to start with. My mums says she can remember that even as a toddler I’d sometimes be ‘gone with the fairies’, impossible to get through to. She’d have to click her fingers several times in front of me before I’d ‘come back’.
By the time I was about 5 years old she’d actually started to worry that maybe something was wrong with me. I can remember her asking me about it after one such ‘turn’. I explained that I’d simply been thinking about something, so deep in thought that I ‘was off somewhere else’. Whatever was happening around me simply didn’t register although on returning to my normal state of consciousness, I was aware that life had gone on and I hadn’t noticed. Mum may have finished making dinner, or dad may have changed his shirt. In fact, WW3 could probably have broken out and I wouldn’t have noticed.
As I matured I realised that what I was doing was meditating. I was reaching so far into myself - or outside of myself, whichever the case may be - that I was blocked from receiving external stimuli. I soon learned how to use meditation to help me relax and by the time I reached my twenties, I’d become quite dependent on it. It helped me understand life and my role in the jigsaw puzzle and kept me calm and strong through some very difficult situations.
These days my meditation takes on a form inspired by Lao Tse, one that's part of the Taoist philosophy. “Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river”. I imagine myself as a mountain and feel the energy rising upwards within me, growing until it reaches its full potential. I feel the strength and vigour of the mountain and make them my own. I feel the freedom surrounding me, and the view becomes a view of life’s possibilities.
From the mountain rushes a river, its energy knowing no boundaries and I enjoy the thrill of the ride but take time to explore the smaller streams that may take me to unexpected places. Then I’m heading for a tumbling waterfall before finally enjoying the rock pool below; the calm serenity welcome after the bumpy but thrilling, adventurous ride.
Tao is said to be the force that runs through life. It’s the energy that keeps us moving forward even when times are rough; it’s what give us the ability to feel contentment with the simple things in life; and it helps us understand and enjoy the exciting voyage that life is. To me, meditation is about releasing the Tao in myself because, in our stressful society, it tends to get locked inside, rather like a river that meets a dam, unable to find a path that flows freely.
Now all this may sound pretty weird and whacky to some, but to me it’s the most natural thing in the world. It may not be right but it feels right and that’s what matters. Some people pray, some people sing, some people chant, some people hug trees; if it helps tackle life, that’s surely a good thing.
Whatever a person chooses as their path to peace, as long as it works and it isn‘t hurting anybody, don’t knock it. I know that when I’m in the rock pool - that calm, serene place deep down within me - I can clear my mind. Relaxation and inner tranquility are total and only then can I begin to find the answers.