January 18th, 2010

Zen and the Art of Motherhood


In an attempt to bring some peace to my life I have taken up Zen Meditation. Well, not so much “taken up” as gone to group three times and wish I had a better grasp of it. Usually this wish comes some time between “Mom I need five empty soda bottles for school tomorrow” and “The dog smells like a butt.”

I’ve done other types of meditation, guided relaxations in which soothing voices encourage my breath to continue in and out (as if it had any other choice) while the melodious sounds of the ocean magically transport me away from a playroom full of naked Barbies. Zen Meditation is not guided or led or even followed. It just is. The goal is to clear the mind of clutter and be exactly in the moment, ridding oneself of anxiety, judgment and anger, worry, etc, etc.

On group nights I arrive and settle myself on a cushion; a circular delight the size of a donut on which I am to balance my behind while tipping precariously and sitting “criss-cross apple sauce”. The Zen leader says a few words and hits a stick that indicates our time is beginning. The goal is to focus one’s eyes downward, without keeping them focused, sit relatively straight, without being rigid, and breathe in and out (again, what’s the alternative?) and clear my mind of all thought. I can repeat a mantra, if I wish – on the intake of breath I think to myself “clear mind” three times and on the exhale I slowly think “don’t know.”

However, my mantra goes something like this:

(Inhale) Clear mind, clear mind….are my eyes closed enough? Too closed? That guy over that has his eyes really open.

(Exhale) Don’t know….know how I’m going to finish all that laundry and plan for the weekend’s trip.

(Inhale) Clear mind clear…skin. Note to self to pick up soap.

(Exhale) Don’t know…how I’m going to get up. My leg is asleep. Is it time to hit the stick again?!

(Inhale) Clear…Tiramisu would be so good right now.

(Exhale) Don’t…fart. Seriously. I’m not kidding. Don’t even think about it.

(Inhale) Am I supposed to be at a PTO meeting right now?

And so forth. Such is the Zen of parenting, I suppose. Progress is when we’re able to narrow down the 30 thoughts that simultaneously occupy our brains to sever or eight at a time.

Clearly Zen masters are not allowed to have children. Or Tiramisu.

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This Weeks Tip

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