November 1, 2012

Meditation Is Expensive! Who Knew?

For the past year, I've explained how meditation has improved the quality of my life more than anything else I've tried.

Years ago, after a long struggle with insomnia -- and a series of experiments with many meds and techniques that didn't help -- I found a form of meditation that involved (don't laugh) a secret handshake. Since then, I've used that handshake technique when sleeplessness -- now infrequent -- troubles me.

These days, though, meditating is a regular part of my schedule, an early-morning ritual that follows a bathroom visit around 4:30am. I meditate -- sometimes for an hour -- then go back to sleep. I've come to value this meditation time as much as my sleep. 

I use the term "meditation" loosely. I do stretching and muscle tensing/relaxing exercises, hoping to find a miracle cure for my lower back pain. Mostly, practicing my own version of mindfulness meditation, I observe random thoughts and sensations as they come and go.

The Meditation Ah-HA Moments... and Their Cost 
Often, during this time, solutions to problems mysteriously materialize. New ideas frequently emerge. Here's an example:

Last month, a friend mentioned in an email that  she and her husband were traveling to Iceland for a week in November to see the Northern Lights. Knowing little about Iceland, and not having the longtime fascination with the Aurora Borealis that so many seem to have, I didn't pay much attention to the trip plans.

Then a week ago during my early morning meditating, a thought came out of the blue: why not create a family trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights? Now, a week later, it looks like eight of us will make the journey during the week after Thanksgiving. Daughter Ann and granddaughter Emily can't take the time away from work, but everybody else is on board: son Todd and his companion Jill, grandson Colin, granddaughter Jessie, her husband Dan, and their daughters Kaylee (6) and Mckensie (1).

Apparently, an 11-year cycle of solar activity (which causes the Northern Lights) is peaking this year. November and December -- which bring short days and long, long nights to Iceland -- are especially good months to see the spectacular displays in the sky.

For several years, I've wanted to get the family together for a special vacation. Friends have taken their families on cruises. But I have a predilection for the "offbeat" when it comes to travel (and other things). I think others in my family share this predilection.

Two of my friends took their families to Antarctica. The destination was certainly offbeat, but it didn't ring my bell.

An adventure in Iceland fits the bill nicely... a trip that would never have come to pass without my early morning meditation.

So... a month from now, I hope to post something like this:

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