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The Mountain

Lately, I keep coming back to the same guided meditation on Insight Timer, The Mountain Meditation. In this meditation, I’m guided to visualize a mountain, and the days, nights, seasons, and weather as they occur around the mountain. For me, that mountain is always Mt. Rainier - so ever-present on the greater Seattle skyline. So, you can probably imagine with me the sun rising and then setting in a blue sky with sweet white puffy clouds. Then, the moonrise and the darkening sky revealing the Milky Way. On the mountain, the snow level rises and sinks; clouds let go of their moisture, and the mountain is often shrouded in fog. But the mountain never budges. It seems impervious to the weather and the seasons.

The mountain just sits. In the meditation, I am the mountain. Or that’s the idea anyway.

Depending on my state of mind, sometimes my visualization is very fast as though my internal time-lapse photography is on overdrive and augmented by lightning, storms, and Photoshop! It’s all very dramatic. That’s kind of funny because the object of the meditation is the mountain - not the weather. I also think that it’s an indicator that I’m continuing to benefit from meditation because in the past I would have been all judgy that I couldn’t control my mind, and now I just think it’s funny.

I read a quote in Tim Ferris’ Tools for Titans that enlightenment occurs between the thoughts. Isn’t it encouraging to imagine enlightenment is supposed to be ephemeral and not a state of perpetuity? For me, it’s a relief. Ephemeral I can strive for!

I have a couple of friends who are experiencing storms in their lives just now. There are a lot of feelings swirling around. Tears and fears. Or there is the avoidance of letting those feelings lose - feelings like that are too out of control. When I’ve been in the weeds of life, I was barely aware of anything except my feelings and my fears, so I’m familiar with the dread of being out-of-control. The grief was so overwhelming I sometimes felt that I could not actually bear it. I spent no time in the present moment - I was consumed with the future and comparing it to my past, or rather, my past expectations.

The thing is, it’s hard to bring focus to the mountain when you’re in the weeds when you’re in so much emotional pain; when your life seems to be about nothing but the weather and there’s no mountain at all.

This weekend, I had occasion to be surrounded by my sweetheart’s children and their extended families (outdoors, six feet apart in a circle) and it occurred to me that family is one way to ‘see the mountain’. Friends are another. When we can’t see the mountain, aka our true selves in all our glory, beauty, and capability, those people that truly know us can show us the way back to seeing/being the mountain.

These are our Mountain Guides! It’s our family, friends, and traditions that heal us and shield us in every kind of weather.

We humans are wired to resist change. I notice that as the news is filled with “life getting back to some version of normal” due to the vaccine availability, part of me wants things to stay the same. I’ve become used to setting my own schedule, and I’m comfortable in my little soap bubble. I like knowing what to expect each day and I’m aware that the future will definitely look ...different.

But I won’t. At least my essential self won’t. And that is the point of the mountain meditation - to shift our focus from the weather and the seasons to the stability and groundedness of the mountain. That is a mighty powerful stance for life.

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