by Whitney Stewart
I wake up to a rare New Orleans day without heat or humidity. The bougainvillea blooms bright orange in my backyard; the sweet olive scents the street; and the woman next door zips up her fleece and jumps on her bicycle. I sit on my bedroom rug and meditate on happiness. And I mentally share that happiness with people who need it.
But at breakfast, I have a toothache, and my throbbing cuspid bites at my mood. I probe my infected tooth with my finger, and all I can think about is the money I’ll have to spend on another root canal. And how I can’t eat the chewy multi-grain roll I wanted for breakfast. I slump in my chair. “It hurts,” I keep telling myself, and nothing about the day feels right anymore, so I sulk.
How did I go from high to low in the space of an hour? My mind flits and flutters through moods as if I’m flipping through the Yellow Pages, searching but never finding what I want. But underneath my mental gymnastics, there is a spacious, unchanging, luminous and natural state of mind. How do I know? Because I’ve glimpsed it, or felt it, during meditation. I’ve had those fragmentary experiences when my skin, my flesh, and my bones peel away until I am nothing but nothing. No toothaches. No dental bills. No anguish. No Whitney.
And then just as fast, my mind jumps back in to define or describe the glimpse I just had. And it’s gone. I want it back. I claw at it. I yearn for it. I beg my mind to make it reappear. But it doesn’t. It’s not at my command. And the only thing I can do is wait. And meditate. Not just when the bougainvillea is blooming and my neighbor is out for a ride, but when my tooth is aching, and I am sulking. That’s as good a time as any.
Whitney Stewart is the author of GIVE ME A BREAK: NO-FUSS MEDITATION, a mini-ebook available at http://www.amazon.com/Give-Me-a-Break-ebook/dp/B004FGMT8G
Whitney Stewart grew up in New England and graduated from Brown University. She published her first award-winning YA biography after interviewing the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books. For her next biographies, she trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in the Everest region of Nepal; interviewed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, Burma; and traveled extensively in Asia to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong, and Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. She is the author of three middle-grade novels and multiple middle-grade nonfiction books, including a picture book about an unknown tale of Abraham Lincoln and Francis Bicknell Carpenter based on her family documents. Stewart lives in New Orleans. Catch her on Twitter and Facebook and at whitneystewart.com