In this morning’s meditation, I sat out in the rain on an uneven boulder. I didn’t want to muddy my zafu, so I used a couch cushion and quickly developed back pain with poor leg circulation. My neighbor started working in his loud, mysterious, mechanic way. I’m recovering from flu and the cold made my throat itch.
In all those constant calls for physical awareness, it was hard to maintain my normal mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum). So I reverted to focus on my breath.
After a time, the So Hum mantra surfaced with my breath. It became ever louder and clearer. Everything else faded, then most of the world disappeared entirely. My in-breath – So – became the pulling back of my inner waters, and my out-breath – Hum – became the roaring of crashing waves.
Then there was nothingness – just that quiet, warm stillness at the center. Then there was only awareness – the Witness. Then I was the same regarding/regarded consciousness as I am when I find that place in the comfort of my home office, under the Om symbol, on my zafu. The materials and circumstances all diminished, as they always will. I arose and the world subsided, or the world arose and I subsided – it makes no difference how things are labeled there, in that place outside of time.
Oh, dear friend, it’s true that you should find a mantra that works for you. You should find your least distracting sitting posture and a hand mudra if it doesn’t utterly disturb you to maintain one. Find the spiritual avatars and symbols that help you best form a relationship with the infinite. Start and maintain a practice with standards, yet let it evolve. All this is good advice.
But the tools and practices are peripheral. Don’t mistake the habits of your practice with the focus of it. Don’t mistake the symbols for what they point at.
And sometimes, just sometimes, do your meditating in the rain.