We just returned home from a wondrous vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan along the shores of Lake Superior. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience. It gave new meaning to “going away”.
(Miner’s Castle, Munising, MI. Photo by me)
Sometimes when my husband and I talk about meditation we use the words “going away”. We each approach our practice of meditation from slightly different paths…but both involve inquiry and mindfulness. “Going away” refers to sensations of time, anxiety, thoughts/mind chatter fading from prominence. It is as if we stop paying attention to the part (ego) of ourselves that occupies day to day life. Sensations, momentary life experiences go back to something simpler…..almost to a pre-language level. There is no need to know anything. Sense of self becomes something curious instead of something important. Yet, it also approaches something much bigger….pure no separation, constantly changing existence……
I recently had a very profound experience during meditation….something that really changed my thinking, my awareness, expectations, my “goals”, my desires for what I hoped meditation would bring to me. It took me by surprise. I wondered if I would ever have that experience again. I wanted to. Shortly after that experience I had a kind of opening up and realized I did not have to long for the recreation of that one experience, I could in fact have that awareness all the time….now, in two minutes, during bouts of doubt and frustration, in the middle of deep joy and moments of peacefulness. It was all the same.
This vacation to Lake Superior was similar. Up there it is remote, slow moving, quiet, wild…..leaving nothing to do or process, only to experience. To be with what was. The experience was more along the lines of “going nowhere”. Just being. Just being mindful of the one moment. I was where I was, and that was what I tried to present with. As Joan Tollifson says, “the boundary-line between “meditation” and “the rest of our lives” dissolves. We discover that aware presence is actually what Here / Now is, the ever-present ground.”
(Grand Marias, MI. Photo by me)
The experience of being in the UP allowed for me to surrender to the simplicity of undiluted sensory experience. Not so unlike the experience I had during meditation. It was being present in the here and now. Awake. No divisions created by words, labels, ideas, interpretations….only what is. The mental realm gave way to the non conceptual realm.
“This kind of wakefulness isn’t something apart from the rest of your life that you just do once a day while sitting on a cushion in the lotus position. It is your whole life.”
Going away to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was like going nowhere. It just was. I just was. In that place and time, in that moment, the present moment. It was all about the here/now. It was about being awake.