Reading as Meditation

Ok, maybe not meditation really. I have been shuffling through some self help/mindfulness/zen musings a bit these days. It is the stuff of rural winters… rest, calm, and reflection. The trouble is, I really don’t like the methods of most of these teachings. Its a little obvious, and ok, boring. It is well intentioned, but I always feel a bit like an imposter when I try these things. What I do know is that slowing the hell down and taking a few moments each day to slow your head is good practice.

There are other ways. When we first settled here 20 years ago, in the lazy hill country of northeast Vermont I did a lot of reading. Apparently there was a lot more time back then to sit about by the woodstove, I am not sure how. Those books were not my stuff of late, all chocked full of chemical diagrams and 6 syllable botany terms, but real reading. These were things like Aldo Leopold, Hal Borland, Bernd Heinrich. The point is that there are sentences out there that take you somewhere else, where you can feel your head loose its tightness, open its gaze, and stumble upon a sort of relief. After years of a lot of business and busy-ness, and engaging primarily in informational reading, I have returned to those pages as my little life raft. ¬†There are facts about in the rural tomes, but there is an art to it, and an attention to something more reluctant to pin down. The prose of Wendell Berry, or the practical ramblings of Gene Logsdon can both make you smile, maybe think a bit, ¬†and kind of set you free. This, I think, isn’t all that far off from sitting cross legged and finding psychic plateus. It doesn’t mean the latter has no merit. It means some folks are different than others, and some roads fit where others do not. So, reading the reflective and enjoying the power of some of life’s so called simple pleasures, or hardships, can be at once entertaining, and meditative. Maybe where the hippy meets the cowboy in us.

I will end with plug for a good friend. Ben Hewitt has been living a life of quiet reflection, right alongside a life of piss-hard work here in the northeast kingdom. You will not find better words to set your head strait than those in his blog. Mercifully it is updated often, so you get a place to return to get your fix. If it does something for you, do pledge a few bucks. It’s cheap therapy.