Last week, I was reminded of this.
I had arrived to give a brief talk to a peer group of not-for-profit executive directors in Licking County. (I love that name: Licking County! What were the namers thinking? Wait. Don't answer that. It's better for us just to move on.)
Anyway, I'm in Licking County, unpacking my handouts for Problem Solving: Creativity & Collaboration, my most frequent subject these days. And I'm chatting with the host, my friend and peer group member, Jill Campen.
Artie: "Thanks for having me out here today."
Jill: "Thank you for coming. We are so glad to have you."
Artie: "Me, too. I'm looking forward to working with your group."
Jill: "They are looking forward to you! They really need to relax."
What did she say?
"They really need to relax."
I thought for a moment. I might be accused of teaching a variety of topics, but none of them induce relaxation.
I often think of Christopher Celeste telling me that, when he works with a group, he wants them left with three thoughts:
- Chris is smart.
- I like Chris.
- We are slightly uncomfortable because there is work to be done.
Good stuff. But not relaxing. The opposite of relaxing: agitating. Agitation toward action.
Anyway, I'm thinking "relax"? So I ask, "Remind me how we billed this workshop?"
Jill: "Introduction to Meditation."
Artie: "Oh, right. I remember your and my conversation about that. That's right. Right."
I packed up my handouts and walked them slowly to my car, just to think.
I came back inside and made a list of several items that came to mind, prompted by the word "meditation":
- how meditation is the ultimate act of civil disobedience in a consumer society, because only air is being consumed
- how we think we are not relaxed, but relaxation is as close as our breath
- Starting with three breaths: past, present, future
- Kumari, and how she guides a sitting meditation
- Three levels of space
- Transcendental Meditation — and my experience with TM since 1975
- Stopping at yellow traffic lights
- Mozart's air — which we continue to breathe — suggesting that we don't breathe air, but rather it breathes us
- Thich Nhat Hanh's poem
- Humans doing vs. humans being
- Somatic training — with my teacher Suzanne Roberts
But this isn't really what this post is about.
Here is what it's about.
All We Want You To Do
From the moment you are pulled from the womb and the slap on the butt or feet is applied (in the movies, at least)…
…to the final moment of your life, when the medical personnel shatter all your ribs applying CPR (unless you have a DNR order)…
…all we want you to do is breathe.
Right now. Please: breathe.
Before you shake that tongue.
Before you grab the next rung.
Before you raise that gun.
Before you decide you are done.
Let's breathe together.
The workshop went well.
I opened by declaring that I didn't prepare for this workshop. That meditation isn't what I teach. But that it will work out because — while this isn't what I teach – it is who I am.
I led them in three meditations. It was great fun and — most surprisingly for me — provided me with an personally excellent meditation experience. I had thought that leading a meditation would be the opposite of meditation. It turned out to be twice meditation.