Meditation brings smiles and relief
In 1996 I appeared on the cover of Organic Gardening. I was photographed with a basket of beautiful organic tomatoes. I actually had been going through a really hard time. I was in the midst of a terrible divorce. Driving on my way to the Rodale Organic Experimental Farm, where I had worked many years earlier as a tour guide, I was hoping I could muster a beautiful smile good enough to meet the expectations of the photographers. I had never considered myself very photogenic, always saying "I was better in person." On the road driving to the photoshoot I was practicing the inner smile meditation of bringing the corners of your mouth up and allowing all of the the smiling goodness and warmth to pour down into my heart and body and mind. I did this repeatedly while holding that basket of beautiful tomatoes as if they were my children, holding them lovingly, carefully and smiling, full of as much bliss as I could muster in spite of all of my life's struggles. It was a good lesson. The inner smile meditation, deep breathing and mantras have kept me off major medications in time of stress, anxiety and depression. It has been the grounding practice of my mind and calming practice for my heart in hard times as well as good. The photoshoot was a success. It was a minor triumph in a time of darkness. It reminded me of the beauty and inner light that can shine in spite of personal difficulties. I still use these meditation techniques. "Triumphant joy" is one of the 21 aspects of the Goddess Tara. It has been a theme important in my life. Overcoming life's struggles and still being joyful is a great ability or grace. To live in the moment of joy, to release all pain and suffering takes some mindfulness and perhaps practice. Life, the world is full of paradox but to keep seeing the beauty and the goodness keeps the grace flowing. I am thankful I have been able to learn these lessons. It is a daily challenge, sometimes more successful than others. But I am of the camp that believes that life is inherently good, we have been offered much more than we can possibly give back.