Starting Over

yogaEvery morning, right around 6 a.m., I spring awake. I could stay in bed longer if I wanted to, but I’m done with sleep. I step across the hall to my study where there is just enough open space on the floor for my Pilates exercises and a bit of yoga. 

That done and my body beginning to unfurl, I settle in to meditate.

Breathe. Breathe again.

I’m not a particularly experienced meditator.  I’ve explored mindfulness meditation several other times in my life, but only in the last couple of years have I begun to understand what I’m doing. Just begun. One of the things I’ve learned about it is that there is no way to fail. When you catch your mind chattering and swinging from tree to tree, you just start over. Return to your breath. Return to your breath again. And even if you have to do that a hundred times in a thirty-minute sit, you’ve had a good meditation, because you’ve paid attention.

As Mary Oliver says, “This is the first, wildest, and wisest thing I know, that the soul exists, and that it is built entirely out of attention.”

Life, I’ve come to know, is also built out of starting over.

I didn’t spend time in my younger days wondering what I would be like in my eighth decade. I remember when I was a child looking with astonishment at the year 2000 on a calendar and wondering whether it was possible that I would still be alive in such a remote time. But I never gave much thought—even as the years accumulated—to who I would be when I grew old. I must have assumed, though, that I would have it all together by now, whatever it was. I can tell I assumed that by the surprise I feel, almost daily, to find myself still struggling, still changing, still growing, still trying to figure out how to be this person I wake up inside of each morning.

I only know, as I’ve learned when I find myself caught in the midst of some loud clamor during my morning meditation, that it’s a privilege to start over … again. 

Last year at this time I was recovering from breast cancer surgery, waiting for the radiation treatments to begin. All that lies behind me now, but the possibilities it brought remain. Perhaps the most dramatic of those is that I have learned that I don’t have time to rush, that the only moment I have is now, that attention creates meaning.

I forget, of course. I suppose we all do. But then I start over.

Breathe. Now breathe again.

A new year is here.

10 thoughts on “Starting Over

  1. Kimberly Kunkel

    Today I am starting over again. I am catching up on email and your blog posts and they are such an inspiration to me. I look forward to going through 2013 with you and your words of wisdom! Thank you!

  2. Wendy

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. I am trying to not rush through life as well as trying to give my attention to what I value. It is not easy!

  3. Mary Atkinson

    I am so glad to know you and I thank you for taking the time to share your experience through words.

  4. Barbara Techel

    Loved this post, Marion. I practice yoga every morning also. It really helps keep me balanced in mind, body and spirit. I used to be an die hard morning walker, but now take a leisure walk each day too with my dogs– also good for the mind, body and spirit for me. 🙂

    Happy New Year!

  5. Lois

    Glad to hear I am not the only one who is still wondering who and what I will be when I grow up. I have come to believe that the answer lies, in that life is not static, so who we are and who we will be is ever evolving.

  6. MManion

    So often as I grow older people insist that one has to hurry, because “time is running out.” It’s refreshing that you concentrate on taking the time to be aware, in the moment, and to start again. In my opinion, starting again, and again, and again, is the most important ability in life.


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