In the mornings, I meditate in my bedroom—actually I meditate in my bedroom closet. There is just enough room on the floor between my dresses, blouses, and hiking boots, to roll out my yoga mat, sit cross-legged on my meditation pillow and close my eyes. This morning there was a dog. A real dog outside my window, not a dog in my imagination. I focused on my breath and the dog yapped. It yapped, yapped, yapped, took a breath, yapped, yapped, yapped, took another breath, yapped, yapped, yapped. I tried to focus on my breath. But the barking was a high and screeching sound. Focus, I threatened. Yap, yap, yap.
When the breaths between yaps got a little longer, and I found my mind filling in the space with a yap, yap, yap. The dog didn’t even have to bark, I was barking for the dog. Then the yap, yap, yap started up again. I was off and running in my mind. Who would let their dog….? Are they deaf….? Why doesn’t someone…?
Finally, the dog stopped barking altogether. But I didn’t notice. My mind was now programmed with yap, yap, yap. ‘Let it go,’ I told myself. ‘Go back to your breath. Focus on your breath.’ But I was lost in my anger. I didn’t know how to let it go.
Instead of meditating, my mind was doing unspeakable things to that dog and that dog’s owner. The yapping dog got the better of me. My mind was on a tear.
And this is exactly why I meditate. To calm the yapping in my own head. So that in the midst of this current political/cultural climate, where a lot of yapping goes on—right, left and center—where we drag in stuff that isn’t relevant, drag in old grudges, drag in faulty assumptions, I can practice speaking in a different voice. The barking dog within us is saying “I have to be right, I have to be right…” so we hold onto our argument and try to win however we can. And then we lose sight of what it is we really want—a planet that works for everyone.
Here is my blessing for all of us in the coming year. May we stay focused, keep our minds calm, our hearts open and our spirits strong.