Have you ever had a conversation with people who meditate on a regular basis? I have and I have to say, we don’t always see eye to eye. Seems like every time I want to complain or rant, these folks find a way to steer me right out of my negativity. It’s maddening sometimes. Then, of course, I tell them that I’ve noticed this and then they say something like “You ought to try meditation. I think you’d like it.” How am I going to respond? “No thanks, I’d rather stay miserable” makes me sound like I might need more than meditation.
I have an old friend who has told me I should try meditation no less than a thousand times, and I have tried meditation and I love it when I do it. The time that you set aside is where I get hung up. Like a lot of women I know, I tell myself that I just don’t have time. And if I did have time, at least one person out of the three that live with me will come and knock on the door and ask me if I’m OK. Apparently, if one of us is quiet it disrupts the whole house.
In my quest to take another look at the practice of meditation, I talked to Ed Merck, someone who knows a thing or two about it. Ed leads mindful meditation three times a week on Zoom these days. I’ve been to his group at the Unitarian Universalist Church back when we could gather and I did enjoy it. I wanted to know why he does it.
First of all, Ed told me he’s been meditating since he was in his early 20s, and to hint at how old he is now, he told me had already gotten his first COVID-19 vaccination. There is a difference in how meditation used to help compared to what it means to him these days. Ed was a successful professional working in financial management and strategic planning, and this he explained, led him to be focused on the future.
“I would say for most of the work years I used meditation as a way to stay focused and to calm myself,” Ed told me, “but, of course, what we’re trying to do is not use it as a technique but to have it become who we are.” Oh, well that is different, I thought.
Ed sold his business and decided that what he really wanted to do was to learn how to live in the present moment. Around a dozen years ago, he sold his house and bought an ocean-going sailboat and opened himself up to the idea that the universe would take him wherever it wanted. Ed had sailed to the Vineyard for years, but what he hadn’t done was give the universe permission to lead him on his journey.
“Sitting in a cockpit, looking at blue, blue, and more blue,” Ed said. “It was me and the blue sky, the blue ocean, and the full moon at night. That was how I really kind of allowed meditation to reshape me in the way I wanted to be reshaped.” Now, I have never considered trading my house for a sailboat, much less spending days and days out on the open sea. What I would like to experience is some of that peacefulness Ed found out there and somehow managed to develop even further on dry land.
I asked him about spirituality and meditation. He told me that the two are inseparable for him. Before, he meditated without connecting much with his own spirituality because it was about using a “technique, quieting the mind.”
“I never really was doing a lot of connecting between meditating and my own spirituality,” Ed said. “Now that’s flipped 180 degrees. I don’t think of using a technique or methodology; how I meditate comes out of the spiritual connection that I’m seeking.”
Ed said that he could explain to me how to meditate all day long, but I wouldn’t get anywhere until I experienced it myself.
“My challenge as a teacher is how do I help the student to have the experience of meditation,” he explained. “How do I help the student to feel their own essence, to connect with their own truth? To know it well enough, deeply enough so that they can live out of that place of their own presence.”
And these days, he’s teaching without having an in-person physical connection with those who are taking his class. At first using Zoom was a struggle, Ed admitted, but now most people are used to it and really, isn’t mindful meditation learning how to accept what is? We’ve all had to do that this past year. He’s found that Zoom is convenient, keeps the group connected, and allows them to balance safety and intimacy.
I think it’s time for me to try meditation again. It’s easy to try a class and no prior experience is necessary. The classes meet for one hour at 9:30 am on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Just send Ed an email at email@example.com and request the Zoom link, and because he has great sponsors like the Councils on Aging and the Unitarian Universalist Society of M.V., it’s free.