Sit and Smile: Thoughts on Meditation



I saw my mother's brother, C, yesterday and immediately, was greeted with a warm smile. It's been about 14 years since I last saw him and I must say, he looks the same - - vibrant and happy as always. His legs stopped working at a very young age, due to a horrible accident while attempting to escape the tragic Vietnam war many years ago. And so, he sits still but always smiles in his cozy and comfortable house in the middle of Ho Chi Minh. My mother once told me, he is a lucky man - to have survived his accident because after a near-death experience in the ocean and upon realizing he was held captive by authorities for long periods of time, he still...

Sits and smiles as if he has all the riches life could ever give him.

And, despite losing his dear wife and children from the unforgiving and treacherous seas while attempting to escape the war times...

He tells me that meditation is quite simple. 'Just smile and laugh, Cathy...that's all there is to meditation.'

A few weeks before paying my dear uncle a visit, I have started my own spiritual journey. While reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, I have come to the realization that I have not pursued this path as much as I would like to. Being brought in a Buddhist background, I recall visiting a few temples as a little girl here and there - - obediently lighting up a few sticks of incense, kneeling down on both knees, and wishing for another Barbie doll...

And wondering, 'What is the point to all this?'

'Why am I here?'

As I continue to turn the pages of Ms. Gilbert's fascinating story of her trip to India and her journey to connect to the Universe on a deeper level, I find myself becoming inspired to do the same but in my own way - - while I am in Vietnam. 

These days, as soon as I stir and listen to my inner body clock - - without the use of electronic alarm clocks glaring in my ear and having to push that snooze button over and over, I lay for just a bit more.

Sitting up...smiling. For however long it feels right. 

At first, my thoughts jump around like little children that have had a bit too much Mountain Dew. After a few minutes, I just accept my thoughts running wild like animals in an African safari so that when they do clear up - - it's like a massive green field with nothing but flowers and blue skies...and nothing else. 

I grasp onto this feeling of nothingness for as long as I can before those thoughts start to creep in again..

'How long have I been sitting here?'
'I think a mosquito just bit my foot, it's starting to burn now...'
'Cathy, just shut up and stop thinking, you think all the time! Just be...Just be!'

And then, quiet again - - but only for a few minutes until it's like anxious people running wild in a Wal-Mart on a way too early Black Friday in the month of November. 

Arrrgh. 

So, why now? Why meditate, one might ask? 

Although I am just starting this well-respected and ancient practice, I am already experiencing the benefits that so many have mentioned before through books, lectures, and people. 

It quiets the mind. It helps me further practice the art of following my heart. What better way to instill consistent calmness and further solidify the understanding that..

Happiness is always within. It's up to you to be happy and to find the inner peace. 

And, hey, if my uncle, who has been through series of tragedies and difficult sorrows, can continue to sit still and smile as if each day is a blessing, I am confident that anyone can grab onto that happiness. 

Forget about those unfortunate external circumstances; they're in the past now, aren't they? Stop trying to control the future so much by worrying; the act of worrying does not necessarily influence the future because we're not there yet. 

Just smile. It's been right there all along. 

Peace ~ Mscathy.


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