Your Meditation Saddle

When I was in 5th and 6th grade, my neighborhood friends affectionately nicknamed me “professor” (well, I want to remember it as ‘affectionate’).  I earned the title partly because I was the annoying kid in their class who asked a lot of questions but also because I designed our tree forts, concocted the smoke bombs we used to get animals out of trees and made the gunpowder we used for delinquent adventures.

As an adult, of course, I still carry that same mind with all its faults and pleasures. I am a classic “absent-minded-professor” type.  I am usually busy thinking about things other than those things which I should be doing at the moment.  My wife, on the other hand, is the opposite:  She keeps a constant growing list in her head of practical things that “must” be done.  And fortunately for me, being married to such a person keeps my world running very nicely.  But unfortunately for her, those lists can haunt and torment her at times.  But she has found a wonderful reprieve from her worrying mind: horse-riding.

My wife took up horse-riding in her 30s and has enjoyed it for many years.  She only took one short break when I insisted she stop after she fell off a horse when she was pregnant with our second child.   But no sooner after our daughter was born, was she back up on the saddle.  And interestingly, my daughter now loves riding too.

My wife has done Dressage and some Western riding but it does not matter to her, she just loves horses.  Heck, she cleans horse stalls twice a week to help pay for riding lessons even though it pays next to nothing.  She just loves the hard work and being around horses.  She is always in a good mood on returning from riding or working at the horse barn.

My wife confesses that she joyfully forgets her lists when she rides.  She thinks of nothing else when she rides — her mind is clear, fresh, light and joyful.  I think it is perhaps close to the only activity that does that for her.  A large part of her other activities are essentially chipping away at her lists. She is very hard-working and very productive.  But breaking from that worry-mind by getting on a saddle is one of her greatest joys.

When I meditate, I try to leave behind the familiar geography of my playful, thinking, analyzing and calculating mind.  I try to stop being an absent-minded professor — a mind I love.  The temporary break gives me a bit more freedom from that mind with surprising rewards.

Yesterday, when sitting on my meditation pillow, I envisioned my wife’s mediation pillow as her horse saddle — it is one of her ways to give her habitual mind a break so as to give her daily life more sanity, more freedom, and fuller joy.

Without getting into the deep purposes of meditation and all that fluff, I am sure people outside of the contemplative traditions (prayer & meditation) can easily see my point about methods of loosening up the habitual mind.  Some of my other saddles, by the way, have included music, Aikido and kayaking.

Questions for Readers:  What are your ways of expanding your freedom from the momentum of your habitual mind?  What sort of saddle do you use?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

9 responses to “Your Meditation Saddle

  1. Jen

    Yoga. Fully embodied yoga. I get lost in bliss when I’m bending and breathing. This is akin to a meditation pillow, I suppose, but I even try to forget that I’m trying to meditate. It’s the closest feeling I get to being.

    I wish I could say music was another saddle for me, but alas, music is often a way I (sometimes intentionally) entangle myself in monkey mind/emotions.

    I like that you confess to loving your analytical mind–nothing wrong with that. But yes, that mini-staycation from our habitual ways of thinking is essential to the well-being of those habitual ways.

  2. Brian

    Rock climbing.

    If you think of your list, you fall. If you think of your worries, you fall. If you think of meditation, you fall.

    If you think of rock climbing, maybe you don’t fall.

  3. @ Jen: Yes, the analytic mind is very useful.

    @ Brian: I have climbed — spot on!

  4. Exercising is my thing, when I’m not injured that is. When I’m injured or in pain, the worst part of it all is that I can’t exercise.

    It definitely takes my mind of off everything else and forces me to be in the moment. I wish I had the discipline to meditate, though. It’s such a great practice!

  5. Tim Smith

    Believe it or mowing the lawn can really get me into a mentally rewarding zone providing I am not overwhelmed in other work areas ( painting, car repair etc ) at which point it all becomes drudgery; one and the same activity can be uplifting or a drag depending on context. I see the same pattern with my wife when she does her gardening. The spring planting, soil preparation, compost application etc puts a lasting glow on her face. Too many weeds to pull, pest control issues, or a brutally hot day can dial down the glow to a grimace. Work is one of the eight fold paths in Buddhist teaching as you well know. It seems akin to a pragmatic way of meditating; zone out while ‘getting things done.’ Pare down the list while being mindful, the best of both worlds. There is a stretching and breathing method that uses eight separate movements, the ‘silken movements’, to rejuvenate the entire body; done right it is blissful. A day without these moves is like a day without beer. These are a few of my favorite things.

  6. Thanx Tim, that was fun.
    I must say, though I can “zone out” kayaking on open water, in rapids, it is horrible. And if my wife “zoned out” while riding, well, I’d be raising kids alone.

  7. CRL

    Fencing, for much the same reason Brian had for rock climbing. You think about your life: they hit you. You think about philosophy: they hit you. You think about analyzing their strategy, and coming up with your own: you hit them. As an added bonus, I get to improve my semi-nonfunctional people-reading skills.

    Math, chemistry, physics, etc. because they’re the only things that can force a semblance of order onto my scrambled brain.

  8. @ CRL :
    Spot on ! That was fun.

  9. Zoe

    Nature…and ironing. :mrgreen:

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