Having founded and nurtured a successful herbal supplement company, one might think herbals would be the first health practice I would recommend as a “must do”. Or perhaps a healthy diet, or exercise, or fresh air. But, truth be told, there is one lifestyle support I would recommend before all of these to help us through our challenging world: the time-honored art of meditation.
These days, we all know someone who meditates, and that someone might be ourselves. Time magazine puts out special Mindfulness editions, and famous comedians and anchormen proport its value. I’ve been meditating for over forty-five years and adopted the daily practice my freshman year in college. I’d grown weary of recreational aids and suspected there was more to consciousness raising than a substance could provide. Something old in me was calling.
My spiritual search began at the unlikely age of six. Though I didn’t know it then, my thoughts were regularly turning to the bigger questions, those usually attributed to Socrates, Abraham, and Buddha. An innocent inquiry would surface while shuffling home from school on a fall afternoon, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet: What is all this, anyway? By “all this” I meant, everything in front of me, above me, below me. The crunch of the leaves, that the leaves were there at all, that my feet in their Buster Browns were there to crunch them, that there was ground beneath me holding me steady. The blazing blue of sky canopied and dwarfed my small form from overhead; the oaks and maples cast their shade. The old colonials and Tudor homes lining the street stood like alert soldiers as I passed. What was this, and how did it all get here? How did I get here, and who in fact was I? There was a point in my questioning that an answer came in a form I did not expect. Not in words or the booming voice of a distant god, but in a spacious empty stillness that filled my mind with quiet understanding. This was my first meditation. My first taste of what it means to stop, and be.
Now when I teach meditation I remind people that the reasons we come to this practice do not always reflect a full understanding of what meditation is actually for. We try meditation for the promise of calm, clarity and relaxation. Perhaps the health benefits grab our interest, or the hope of bettering our relationships. In work environments meditation is touted for improving productivity and happiness. All true, but in its essence meditation is more than the sum of these parts. When we sit and get to know ourselves through what has come to be called mindfulness we discover a profound self-connection, a coming home to presence, a stilling into what’s right here. The benefits we gain: heightened self-awareness, clarity, compassion, insight are the results of having tapped into this “space of our essential being”, fancy words that answer the proverbial question nagging at every one of us: “Who are we anyway?” Here’s what I’ve found:
- I’ve grown more likely to stop a destructive train of thinking before it can do real harm to myself and others and can identify how my ego tries to hold onto control.
- I recognize that what comes through my mind is rarely the truth and what rests in my heart is.
- I’ve learned to have compassion for my humanness, my imperfections and failures, and extend that same understanding to those around me.
- I’ve been blessed with moments of clear seeing that reveal the magic in the ordinary. Small episodes that manifest like gifts from the greater awareness: Seeing ancestry in a stranger’s face. Recognizing oneness like a connective tissue between all things and this, the true nature we seek.
When we meditate together insights such as these compound and that’s where we get to the biome. If we view our collective community as a biome, a system of interdependent energies, we recognize that we are all intrinsically connected. The space of our essential being is shared by all, in that we all arise out of the same life source. When we make time to join in that mystery together, we are sharing connection on the most essential level of our existence, we are paying homage to the unity that exists outside our differences. Together we tap into our innate ability for harmony, ingenuity, lucidity, compassion. The results reflected in our relationships can be tangible.
At For The Biome we commit to daily team meditation. We take a break from whatever is happening at 11:30 Eastern, and dive in. It’s time for the inward stroke, time to find out who we are, what’s at core, what’s calling from our hearts. For fifteen minutes we take that voyage together, connecting with our breath, the aliveness in our bodies, the subtle, yet ever-present awareness we too often miss. We allow our busy minds to slowly unwind and learn to mindfully abide with what’s here. There is a shared presence and peace when we finish. There is something enlivened that wasn’t felt before.
My journey has led me from the spontaneous ponderings of my childhood to a deep commitment to share what I’ve gained from this ancient and remarkable practice. The fact that meditation has become vogue is a sign of these troubled times. We need it more than ever, and many of us are answering that call. Let’s meditate together. For The Biome.
WRITTEN BY BARBI SCHULICK