Today a Sikh man came into the shop where I work. He asked me if I did a lot of meditation or prayer because he felt that I was grounded and had a high spiritual energy. I said, very honestly, "No. But I try to be grateful for as much as I can."
I had to explore a thought after that. What does it mean to meditate? To pray? Where does that feeling of grounding come from? Why are we so set at ease by certain people? Such a simple conversation with this man had me outright grinning and I had no idea why.
In the moment when I asked myself if I meditated or prayed, I asked myself how often I intentionally create a space, sit down in it with a straight spine, close my eyes, and consider my thoughts. I see those pictures of open rooms with large windows, a single seat cushion, and a potted plant in the corner; the kind of picturesque scene that entices us from magazine pages. But that is rarely anything like my surroundings or my life.
What I do, is sit quietly in my car, or in the park, or on the small floor of my shared 400 sq/ft apartment. I walk through the woods near my house, or to the store, or around the neighborhood. I doodle, I paint, I tend my little garden and sweep the kitchen floor, I stare at the wall for extended periods of time, I take photographs, and I drink tea. When I consider the heart of what it means to pray or meditate, I find honestly and openness of self to be the only requirements. And in that light, all my activities sound like meditation, even prayer, to me.
I worry that we have become too attached to how we are supposed to look and what we are supposed to feel when we meditate, focusing more on the external result instead of the internal journey. People shying away from "spiritual" pursuits and study because they don't have the time, or the space or the money to build the setting. I find it fascinating that the template for "how" provides a structure that for many assists in the cultivation of the practice, but it is only when we "drop-in" or let go of of the structured pretense around us that our masks fall away and we show up as who we genuinely are. Even when we are 100% not OK, the simple act of owning up to that fact opens us up, and being not OK instantly becomes OK.
I encourage us all to practice our own meditation, our own prayers. Sometimes it's staring into space letting your thoughts roll, sometimes it's speaking to God (in whatever form you see the binding force of our reality), or climbing a mountain till your fingers bleed, or drinking tea next to a river, or watching your child sleep, or watching the sunset over the horizon. Wherever your journey brings you, be honest, be genuine, and show up as the beautiful mess and divine creation we exist as every single moment.