Dead Calm

Waves breaking on Paradise Beach at LEsterre Bay with an old fishing boat on the shore and the turqoise sea and Sandy Island sand bar beyond, Grenada

Sandy Island sand bar beyond, Grenada: By

Today, I send into your meditation the plateau. Many a dieter knows the feeling. Early efforts in their weight loss program brought swift and great results, but deeper into the discipline of eating and exercising they hit a plateau and they feel as if their progress has stagnated. They lose faith and “fall off the wagon” so to speak, believing their set goal is now unattainable.

Meditators can do this, too. Make a commitment to daily sitting, have incredible experiences at the start, see great results, but then after a time it just feels routine. As if we sit day in and day out and we feel like we’re making no meaningful progress.

We remind ourselves that there are no goals in meditation or seeking. It’s not about chasing the butterfly but remaining still that it might alight upon our hand instead and other such notions of stillness. Lovely thoughts, of course, but when we see ourselves engaging in behaviors we’d hoped meditation would’ve rid us of, such as, easy impatience or irritation, we can feel we’ve hit some weird peace plateau. We’re calmer, more peaceful, but there’s a boundary of some sort we can’t get past. We find ourselves still with self-critical thoughts or battling a vague sense of unworthiness.


Sailboat in a dead calm: from

We start looking for other strategies, believing meditation has taken us as far as we can go. Or we come to believe this is just as good as it gets, maybe.

Plateaus offer us two very powerful opportunities. The first is the state of adjustment. We see plateaus as stagnation, when really they are points of adjusting to our newer self. Just like hiking a mountain where the legs dearly love straightaways where they can recoup before the next climb, plateaus offer us the same thing. A chance to regroup and adjust to this newer version of us that has been evolving within our practice.

And too, as losing weight too fast can cause huge setbacks, we need time to adjust to new states of being. Spots on the path where we can integrate all that we’ve absorbed in our practice, before moving on. These periods of integration and adjustment help us advance our practice. It’s those, seemingly uneventful, straightaways that allow us to garner new energy for the next leg of our spiritual journey.

Second, plateaus frequently have important gifts we have yet to see. The wind has vacated our sails and we sit in calm water, because there is something here. Something important for us to grasp, learn, take in, and/or understand in some fashion. This dead calm in the midst of our journey is a gift. The plateau has a deep and meaningful purpose. There is a gem of understanding waiting for us to become mindful to that is right in front of us. Now is the time to double down and really sink into our practice.


From Pinterest

Rarely is what we’re needing to observe hard to find. Usually, it’s staring us right in the face; requiring little more than true mindfulness. What are we thinking about day to day, minute to minute? What emotions are lingering either clearly like a constant irritation or quieter, behind our general thinking, like sorrow? How are we behaving? How do we treat ourselves and others? What are our complaints really about? What worries hold sway?

If we spend time mindfully watching ourselves in the same detached way we sit, we will often find nuggets of awareness that have become as Story Water’s refers to as ‘wallpaper’. Stuff we’ve been thinking, feeling, doing for so long it’s simply become wallpaper in our lives. Things we tolerate within ourselves that aren’t serving us at all. To see them, we often need to be stuck in one spot, until we stop seeing the spot we’re in as familiar and begin to see it with new eyes.

The plateau is here for us to stop moving, intentionally, and look more deeply at what is before us. It is not a block to progress, but rather a powerful indicator of a place we’ve brought ourselves to, to see, hear, feel, and heal something vital within us. The plateau is part of our progress, not outside of it.

So if we’ve lost our wind and the sails hang still, we need to take a deep breath. Put in check the seductive desire to complain about where we are. Take a seat and recommit to the journey we so wisely stepped onto however many moons ago. Either give ourselves permission, time and space to integrate all that we’ve developed within, to this point, or get curious and alert and look around. There are likely pearls of wisdom and understanding falling all about our feet. The moment we are in now, has everything we seek and will move us forward when the timing is right and the wind’s steady.

If you enjoyed this piece, I would be delighted if you checked out my book using this link or the link above. Namaste…

If Every Journey…

Bridge over Bear Creek: Photo by Noelle

Bridge over Bear Creek: Photo by Noelle

If every journey started with a bridge we would know the moment we crossed over into something new. We’d know when we’d left the familiar and wandered into an unknown land. If every journey began with a bridge, midway across we could ponder which of the two sides looked better and which we would prefer. We could stand over the chasm or the river or the valley and consider calmly our progress and feel the distance we’d come. If every journey started with a bridge, there’d be that moment, before we stepped upon the first planks, where we could decide if we even wanted to cross. If every journey started with a bridge it is likely there are many paths we would never have taken and many journeys we would have missed. If every journey started with a bridge our cautious, logical mind very likely would have stayed home, more often then hiked onward.

Sometimes tripping off a blind ridge or down a dank rabbit hole is the best thing that can happen to us. No time to ponder or decide. No chance to consider all of the ramifications. We might discover that we are not these prescribed lives with planned goals and agendas. Going in through the out door or slipping on a banana peel, might open our eyes that we are so much more than habits and due dates. That we are magic and light and a creative tour de force that would’ve left Da Vinci weeping.

Falling into the unknown is what we were meant for. Not to organize it all, but to just live. Right now, with nothing but our wits.


Free Bing Stock images

Free Bing Stock images

The apartment is quiet. I breath in slowly, holding it a moment before letting it out. I breath in again and close my eyes.

What separates me from the great explorers? Are we not all voyagers? Am I any different in substance and character then the captains of old? Crusty souls, masters on open seas, with nothing but gulls to mock their misadventures and palms to hail their gold. They hungered deep within their hearts for other treasures, too. Love, beauty, freedom

I breath in and the sound of my heart beats in the distance.

I stand, eyes closed and breath in again. The clock ticks in the kitchen. I hear the rattle of the blinds as the wind slips in. This time comes the scent of the sea. I wait, breathing silently, until the ocean spray touches my face. It heightens my awareness of the flapping sails. I stand ever so still. Breath in, breath out. Tack lines move across my feet as they feed out. This helm holds the trails of so many hours in my pacing.

The wood of the wheel has a warmth to it beneath my palm. Worn, warped, mine. I stroke it fondly for it is my companion, as much as, the means to find my way. Tidal currents move at angles on the water ahead, but I hold the wheel steady. The ocean moves beneath me and I’m terrified by what I cannot know or see and exhilarated with equal passion.

The sextant, too, feels substantial and weighty in my hand. I bring it up to my eye and hold it steady on my future. It is distant, but objects within are clearer to me now. I can set my mark. Breath in. I am not as far off course as I thought. Breath out. A few calculations in my sea journal and I move the wheel slightly to starboard. The spray rises and the wind fills the sails. That distinct flapping comes to my ear, as a switch of an ignition somewhere in my mind. I hold my breath and listen. The rhythm of the hull rising on the sea surf, then dipping below the horizon with a soft flop.

My heart beats in the distance.

The salt and the sea now envelope me. I run my hand lovingly across my map. A map built in sweat and love, tears and anger, missteps, wrong turns, high flying freefalls and laughter. Yes, a rich laughter, indeed. My map. My life is lines of longitude and latitude and strange sea monsters with lolling tongues. Or are they guardian angels? I’ve forgotten or can’t remember. I have been adrift many times. Always, at some point, I catch a wind and find land to regroup and set out again.

Breath in. Breath out.

The sound passing my lips is the only sign the ship is in motion. I look up. Orion is on the horizon. I am a star gazer and my ship has many ports still to see. Master of my destiny, I am. I breath deeply one last time of the saline sweet air. I lay the sextant down, loneliness settling where it filled my hand. The clock ticking in the kitchen persists. Blinds rattle in the dirty apartment windows. My heart beats steadily in the distance. The map folds close as eyes open.

Breath in, breath out.