I felt so happy when I first learned to meditate. I loved it. I meditated two hours a day.
In those days, I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland - at 21 Wardlaw Street, in a part of town called Gorgie, near the Hearts football club grounds.
I liked to meditate 20 minutes in the morning before going to work. I meditated the other hour and 40 minutes when I got home from work. Then I cooked dinner - usually something with gravy, because that's the Scottish way. After dinner, I knitted and watched tv. For a year I knitteda big wool sweater with 3-foot long sleeves. I curled up on an old, broken-spring sofa . I loved that sofa.
I meditated cross-legged on a gomden, a block of solid foam that Chogyam Trungpa invented to be like the benches Tibetan monks sat on. ( Rinpoche brought Buddhism to the West after the Chinese invaded Tibet.)
I just sat down there on that block of foam and let the good times roll. I felt like I never met my mind before and I loved getting to know this person and this body I live in.
In my meditation, I learned I can be with and appreciate all my questions. I learned I didn't have to have all the answers. I didn't have to have any answers. I learned I can appreciate the space around the questions, the space around thoughts, the simple space of just being in my body. I learned to be. A lot of the time in those days, what I was being was "in trouble" of one kind and another, so I loved having this time to unwind and not freak out about whoever I thought was mad at me.
I was just sitting and being in the living room/kitchen of a one-bedroom flat in Wardlaw Street in Edinburgh. And I was in heaven.
Jamgon Kongtrul (pictured above), was the childhood teacher of my teacher, Chogyam Trungpa . Do you see how Jamgon Kongtrul sits in this photo with upright posture, hands planted on his knees - with that mindfulness of the body - with that heart in his eyes? That teaches me. I love this picture. This picture shows me how to meditate. I feel Jamgon Kongtrul is speaking to me. He's saying. This is how you do it. You can just sit like this and you are doing it. I feel Jamgon Kongtrul is meditating with me. When my teacher was alive, he used to say, "When you practice, we will meet." I feel that's true. Tru dat. When I meditate, I meditate with Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen, Chogyam Trungpa, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
I live in America now. -- in Colorado. Sometimes I meditate indoors, but I like to meditate in my backyard. I like to plonk myself down in a patio chair, and sit just like Jamgon Kongtrul. I sit in an upright posture, and I plant my legs on the earth the same way Jamgon Kongtrul does in this photo.
Before I meditate, I check in with my body. My shoulders are not hunched and forward, but rather relaxed back and down. This opens my chest so that my arms fall parallel to my body. I lift my forearms to rest on my thighs. A slight convex curve in my lower back holds my posture.* My eyes are relaxed. I'm not looking at anything particular -- not focusing and not blurred. I'm just letting my eyesrest in the sockets. My head sits up straight from my neck and my mouth opens a little to relax my jaw. I tuck my chin slightly to relax the muscles in my neck.
I listen to my breath flowing out from my body and I let that dissolve into the space of my backyard.
When I notice I'm thinking, I come back to my breath. I come back to the sound of robins singing. I come back to the clatter of my neighbors putting away dinner dishes. I come back to the bushy tails of the squaddels who run along the top of the fence and up and down the branches of the pear tree. I come back to the wide-winged red-tail hawk gliding across the field behind my backyard.
I come back to my rookie flow of thoughts. I come back to questions. I come back to listening. I come back to letting go. Letting go of the robin song. Letting go of the bushy tails and wide wings. Letting go of the neighbors. Letting go of thoughts. I breathe.