Mirror Images

Synchronicity is the flipped around backwards mirror image of déjà vu. With déjà vu, you have a familiar experience that seems to have happened before. With synchronicity, a person you haven’t seen in ages pops into your thoughts and a moment later this very same person telephones you or you run into her at the park or in the grocery store. I used to call this sort of thing coincidence, but since I began my meditation practice about a year and a half ago, I call it synchronicity. This is a powerful concept that can be delightful and entertaining, as in the time my husband Joe mentioned his old college buddy as we walked by the Russian Tea Room. We were visiting New York City and the memory inspired Joe to call up his old friend only to learn that his friend was also visiting New York City and had lunch that very day at the Russian Tea Room.

But synchronicity can also be disturbing and it can lead to more questions than answers. When there are no coincidences, meaning resonates everywhere and sometimes that echo can be deafening. The most mundane patterns are disturbing.  I have an unfortunate habit of turning in too sharply when I pull into my garage and denting the front bumper of my car.  I wonder: does this mean something more than the fact that I have some peripheral vision issues and I'm in too much of a hurry too much of the time?

Meditation leads to questions. Many have no answers, but some lead to discovery. I celebrate the underlying and inexplicable connections between what goes on inside my head and what goes on in the concrete outside world even when it all looks upside down and backwards.

Mind the Gap: Day Three Hundred Twenty-Five

I aspire to meditate daily.Within my normal routine, I may skip a couple of times here and there, but mostly I get to it every day. But when my far-flung family gathered in one city, I rearranged my priorities. My parents who live in Florida, my son who lives in Los Angeles, my son and his girlfriend who live in Chicago, and myself and my husband who live in Cleveland, all made our way to New York City  to welcome the newest member of the family into the world: my new baby granddaughter. Meditation requires just twenty minutes of time and a solitary space within which to find stillness, but I was not willing to chop off any of my prescious minutes to devote to a solitary activity. I didn't want to take a chance on missing a moment of available time with my parents, children, husband, granddaughter. It's not that there was not a twenty minute block available here or there  (of course there was), but I never knew when my daughter might call and say the baby had just woken up or just been fed and was ready for a visit. It's the spontanteity I was not willing to give up.

So for the past couple of weeks, I've meditated only a couple of times and here I am trying to figure out what effect this has had on me. If there's one thing meditation has taught me, it's that you can't really figure out how meditation does and does not change your life. Conversely, it's not so useful to try to figure out what effect lack of meditation has had. I quiz myself: Am I more irritable? More anxious? Less productive? In other words, am I a different sort of person when I meditate and when I don't? It may be a question without an answer, but nevertheless it's the question foremost on all of our minds. Will this meditation thing do something relevant and immediate for me? I can see a trail of my accomplishments from the time I began to meditate almost a year ago until now and if that is a measure of change, I can see those things. But I can't see what would have happened had I not started to meditate. I feel powerful when I refuse to accept coincidence and am open to  the synchronicity that surrounds me, but I don't know how things would have played out were I still a person that noticed coincidence and then went blithely on ignoring the connections.

Maybe all the meditation I've done over the course of the past year has built up a reserve in me so the gap in my meditation schedule was of little matter.

Mind the gap. Cope with the gap. Meditate again.

Jack Gilbert:Days Two Hundred Sixty-Six - Two Hundred Seventy

20121115-164816.jpgBefore I left for my trip to NYC last week, I grabbed my hard bound copy of Jack Gilbert's Collected Poems. I'm almost always reading a novel, but I've been squirelly lately, unable to settle on any story, not able to start something new. I'm reading short work, magazine pieces, short stories- of course, but for this trip, I brought along my Gilbert. I especially wanted to re-read Refusing Heaven, Gilbert's collection from 2005. Here's a taste.

MEDITATION ELEVEN: READING BLAKE AGAIN

I remember that house I'd rented with them. The laughing and constant talk of love. The energy of their friends. And the sounds late at night. The sound of whipping. Urging and screams. Like the dead lying to each other.

Not poetry for the weak of heart. Jack Gilbert can be brutal, but his brutality is the kind that insinuates itself into your core and once it's in there, there's no getting rid of it.

The day I returned from my trip, Jack Gilbert died. In my life before meditation, I would have remarked on this coincidence. Strange I'd lug this book with me just a few days before the great man died. In  my meditative life, I no longer believe in coincidence. Jack Gilbert put out some strong energy into the universe and lucky for me a little bit of it seeped into my life.

Synchronicidence: Day Two Hundred Thirty Two

How does this happen? Joe and I were walking down 57th St. and we passed the Salisbury Hotel. He says, as he always says when we happen to walk this way, "When I was in college, I took a trip with my friend Tom Guest. He wanted me to come with him when he looked at medical schools and we stayed at the Salisbury Hotel, right across the street from the Russian Tea Room." For some reason, Joe has a fascination with the Russian Tea Room, and the Salisbury made him nostalgic, so he decided to send his friend Tom a text. A few hours later, Joe heard back from Tom who was in the city with his family and happened to have had lunch at the Russian Tea Room.

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Come Back: Days Two Hundred Three - Two Hundred Five

To the great female force in the universe, here is my confession: It has been three days since I last meditated. The mantra I used today was: Come Back. I am on information and energy overload attending a conference with 1700 other Jewish ladies in New York City. We are powerful, we are chatty, we are, for the most part, really well dressed. The dress I drooled over at Barney's last June, I saw two of them. Black A-line swing dress with fuchsia patch pockets, you know who you are.

The closing keynote address last night was delivered by Corey Booker. This black man impressed me with his impeccable Yiddish and his devotion to Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). I hope he meets his b'shert soon. I have a little bit of a crush on the Mayor, but I'm absolutely smitten with a certain Mrs. Levine whose name never made it on the program, the quintessential little old Jewish lady who found her power to change the world. She's been in jail twice, once for an act of desegregation and once for slipping a letter under the door at the Russian embassy asking that the Russian ambassador please allow Jews to emigrate out of his country. Mrs. Levine, you rock.

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Meditation for the Rest of Us: Days One Hundred Ninety-One - One Hundred Ninety-Three

When I pick up an article about meditation and see words like higher awareness, search for truth, freedom from suffering, I start to gag a little and clench up my teeny tiny mind. I am a sarcastic person and a cynic. Kind of proud of that, too. I'm just not interested in enlightenment. As a matter of fact, I'd choose superficiality over enlightenment any day. Let's see: Finding Nirvana vs.Shopping for Shoes?Quest for The Truth vs. Quest for the Perfect Pizza (crispy crust, sweet sauce)?

I say, if you have affection for the superficial, when you're there, enjoy it.

Can sarcastic and superficial people meditate? Seems that we can.

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