No one would call me mindful. I forget where I set my reading glasses, have returned empty envelopes to Comcast and others while leaving the payment checks in my checkbook, and once left my cell phone on an outdoor bench in Haarlem, The Netherlands. (After a complicated series of events I received it in the mail after we’d returned home.)
I’m not looking for miracles, but would like to make some improvements. I know, I know, just shut my eyes, count my breaths, dismiss distractions, and my blood pressure will drop, I will no longer stew over the state of our country, and soon will be floating in a Nirvana-like state. In fact, there is a great deal of research on the effectiveness of meditation in relieving stress and improving health, but I haven’t put in the amount of time needed to improve anything. I work my fifteen minutes in before bedtime and immediately return to reading my library book, which is a lot more fun.
However, something that happened recently gave me an idea of a new approach to achieving some level of mindfulness. For four glorious days my husband and I attended a music festival called Wintergrass. This year’s theme was “Bach to Blue Grass.” We heard fourteen different musical groups, playing about 45 minutes apiece. (Yes, sitting that long does take its toll, but there are three venues, so you get a little exercise walking between rooms.)
By day three I found my mind wandering less. By day four I was able to banish many random thoughts and found the music completely absorbing. Also, I attended Sunday church services and found myself completely absorbed in chanting, and listening to the entire congregation chant, when normally I think about my grocery list for the week.
I’ve decided to try music meditation. It’s been thirty years since I listened to classical music. A good starter would be a record (my husband has saved plenty of vinyl from the old days) by British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams, preferably one of his pieces described as tranquil, even mystical. If, after a few weeks, I’m still putting eggs in the freezer or forgetting where I left the cat, at least I will have broadened my musical horizons.