Sometimes it is a real challenge to meditate because I start thinking about what I am going to write when I finish meditating and, no matter how many times I bring my mind back to my breath, it gets excited and starts writing again.
This morning, for example, I started well, focused on my breath. Then the sound of the rain intruded. It’s really coming down. I like the sound of the rain, having spent many years outside of Seattle, where it rains a lot. I smiled. Attachment. Back to the breath.
The rain hit the windows and I was reminded of the sound of the rain on the roof. We used to go camping in an old cab-over camper, five of us, two dogs, and sometimes (oops) a cat. And when it rained, the whole camper filled with the sound. That’s a lot of living beings in a small camper. Oops, there I go again, back to the breath.
Last week, I was in Mexico on business, and man did it rain. We worried that we would be late getting to the client’s office because it was raining so hard. The street in front of their office was filled with cars dropping off employees and ran like a river – our Uber drove up on the sidewalk so we wouldn’t have to step into the six-inch deep water next to the curb. When we arrived at the first-floor meeting room that we had staked out for the week, we were soaked. There will be an earthquake drill at 11 a.m., they told us. Do we crawl under the table? I asked. No, we evacuate. Into the rain. Luckily the drill was canceled. Unluckily, about that time, the floor warden dropped by to tell us that the first floor was being asked to move to the second floor. Just a precaution because the parking lot had flooded.
So we joined the stream of people moving to the stairs at the end of the floor, ascended, and staked out an empty conference room. The conference rooms, lunch room, and halls filled with people. The rain pounded the ceiling. Just like the rain outside the window. Oops, thinking again. Back to the breath.
Breathing in. Breathing out. Breathing in.
It’s funny the way that we all react differently to stressful situations. There we were, trapped by the rain. Our hosts were distracted, playing local videos of cars floating down streets over and over again. Are you worried about your home, your family? We asked. No, the flooding wasn’t in their neighborhoods; their families were safe. They quietly took phone calls from friends and neighbors; everyone was good. Does it rain like this a lot here, we asked. No, we had caught the tail end of a hurricane, really only a tropical storm. Very rare there. One of my colleagues was a little nervous — a tropical storm in a foreign country, and grew more nervous when the power went off, distracted herself by chatting quietly with one of our clients, drawing out all sorts of useful information about company operations that will inform our project. I typed up my notes from the week, updated the project plan, stayed focused, lit only by my laptop screen. My other colleague sat quietly, lost in email, then popped up and paced nervously in what little space there was in the room. Sat again, looked around the table, stood up again. Desperately looking for something to do, some way to take charge.
And there I go again. Breathe. Breathe.
I get easily distracted by the thought of writing. Maybe I should switch up my routine, write first, then meditate. But I meditate before my husband gets up and turns on the TV. While it’s distracting to write while the TV is on, it’s next to impossible to meditate.
Meditate. Right. Breathe. Breathe.
Raindrops on the window.
It was funny how the cessation of the rain on the roof left a hush in the room. After an hour or so there was an announcement in the hall – the local government had removed the shelter-in-place order – and people began to move out of the building. We returned to our hotel, amazed at the height of the river, the water over the dam (literally). When I returned to my room, I opened the curtains for the first time all week (we had been busy) and discovered a view of the river. Between the hotel and the river had been a promenade a thin strip of park. Now there was just promenade and the river. By the next day, the river had descended again, leaving a layer of red river mud and much of the city had returned to normal.
Ding. Another 20 minutes of practicing bringing my mind back to my breath.
And it’s still raining here.