As a child growing up in Florida in the ’70s and ‘80s I remember riding my bike through my neighborhood and on nearly every street there would be a few open garage doors with seniors sitting in lawn chairs listening to music, viewing small portable TV’s, or simply just sitting and observing life as it passed by their homes.
I remember on the one hand thinking how boring that seemed and on the other hand how comforting it seemed. First, it was comforting in that, they always looked content in their situation. Secondly, there was comfort in knowing that, in the periphery of their sitting, they had an eye on the neighborhood and that made me feel safe. Thirdly, when you see someone at ease, it is contagious, and just by observing them, I could feel ease in myself.
Those days are nearly 40 behind me but with the current state of Covid-19 keeping us at home, I am reminded of this childhood memory and a re-emerging of this practice. Hot summer days with no place to go. The garages, balconies, porches, and patios are appearing to be gathering a new audience.
Sitting still can be difficult if you have not ever really done it. We have become conditioned to keep our to-do lists full, to be productive, and use our time wisely. So there is a resistance to “doing nothing” a sense of guilt can creep in and make you want to start a project – Don’t!
Put your to-do list away for a moment, realize that “productivity” is not limited to physical activity and that using your time “wisely” requires a degree of wisdom that does not develop when you’re keeping your mind filled with tasks. So sit – just sit – and wait…
The mind may fill with thoughts, like a hundred voices at a cocktail party. The thoughts seemingly urgent and all requesting your attention may make you want to grab that to-do list and at least add a few things you had previously forgotten. Don’t move from that seat! The thoughts can wait. Don’t let this opportunity be taken from you. The sweetness is just around the corner.
Take that deep breath and let the chattering mind realize, this is not the time for agendas. This is time for you to settle and remember what it is to be human at this moment. Then, even if for only a moment, in your first sitting you get something special – a break.
A real break. Suddenly you are face to face with you sitting in a reality uncluttered by agendas. You could get caught in the next trap and start to philosophy your life. With time those can be great moments of awakening, IF – you can do so without being critical of your path. The ego can be a judgmental voice yet the REAL core of you sees only experience and learning.
Woe, relax. That is a rabbit hole that you will take when you are ready. I only tell you about its presents because as you sit, one day, you may decide to explore. Everyone has an amazing story and when you dive into it, you will find it is one of the greatest stories ever told.
Let’s get back to the garage. Now the moment of sweetness. This is the moment when all the agendas fade and you find yourself sitting and enjoying the company of you sitting with you. You become softly aware of the smells, sounds, temperature, light, colors, and contentment of being in the moment. No one called it meditating back then but it for sure fits the description.
So, don’t worry if your friends don’t understand meditation. You don’t even have to teach them how. Sometimes, when you want to hang out but don’t really have much to say, invite your friend so to come to sit for a while in the garage. They may be antsy at first but in time they and you may discover the best room of your house is the portal between the inner and outer world…for now, we will just call it the garage.