Just breathe…

Sitting in my meditation pose, listening to one of the most respected Buddhist teachers in Sri Lanka as he leads a guided meditation session. I feel fraudulent, farce as I do my best to keep my mind clear. I’m focused on the words spoken just before the session, “breathe is in the present. Let all thoughts arrive then send them on their way. Stay in the present.”

Naturally, while in this head space I have dozens of questions. Thinking is how I process experiences, life, mistakes. The discipline it takes to dismiss them eludes me. Memory recollection, business ideas, logistics of the next adventure all float whimsically around up there when silence is allotted me.

It’s warm. Sweat beads on my upper lip and hair line. I try to still my mind. Listen to my breath. Listen to his words. Another handful of seconds go by, faces and images flash in my mind. Breathe. Be still.

Ven. Maitipe Wimalasara Maha Thera Chief Incumbent/Director at Parama Dhamma Chethiya Maha Pirivena, Sri Lanka
Parama Dhamma Chethiya Maha Pirivena, Sri Lanka
After the guided meditation session

*First two images courtesy of Paramadhammachethiya.org

Bag Lady (besides being the title of a great song by one of my favorite female artists) has always been a term of endearment for my style of travel-always carrying too much. Over packing synonymous with my first name. One friend would joke, "if I could hear you coming down the hallway, bag lady!" Another replies with disbelief and hysterical laughter when I proudly proclaim that I successfully packed one 'carry on' sized bag for a two week adventure. Obviously organized, structured and planner are frequent adjectives to describe me. And I genuinely agree unapologetically that these three elements help keep me balanced in life. That is until well...life, or the opposite actually. Consider what it might be like to have the earth shatter from under your feet like a dropped egg plummeting to the ground helpless to its demise, bringing you to an abrupt halt and leaving you in a million pieces from the fall. Yea... that's what it felt like when my Mother, life coach, and best friend in life and all things international travel, took suddenly ill and passed away while I was serving my country overseas in the U.S. Peace Corps. Both my Grandmother and my Mother, the two rocks in my unruly stream of life, taught me that positivity and laughter go a long way. The harsh reality that nothing really goes "according to plan", however, left me ambivalent about what I'm called to be and who I was shaped to be and ultimately pitted my mind against my heart. After I lost her none of the "plans" we'd made were to come to fruition. In the months after her passing I would ask myself some tough questions-as I do- and encounter a profound silence in response. Over time one solitary word would come to me from the saddest place in my heart, GO! So I will.. Now I travel to feel her. To find her in the smiling face of humanity. To keep moving forward with my journey of being a positive change in peoples lives through cross cultural experiences and adventure in places I never thought I'd be inclined to go! Meeting my own travel goals while meeting the truth that time and letting go of all the bags I carry will heal my shattered heart while helping me plant my two feet back on solid ground.

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Comments (3)

  1. I am enjoying your blog! You’ve been busy since Sri Lanka! Could you possibly IM me through FB (or email)? I would love the picture of our entire group with Ven. Maitipe Wimalasara Maha Thera, taken after our meditation session with him. That certainly was a highlight of the trip.
    Kathy (one of the birdwatching sisters)

    1. Hi Kathy! Thanks for reading 🙋🏾Hope you and your sister are well! You wouldn’t believe the beautiful birds I was blessed to see in the Amazon in Peru! Please send me an email at baglady.meredith.sandiego@gmail.com and I’m more than happy to reply to you with the image attached