Standing In Line

Some days my To Do List runs off the paper, down onto a piece of mail, scurries over the counter, up over the fridge… I could paint my house with my To Do List.

On days like this, I will be running my errands at lunchtime when everyone is out running their errands too.

On the road, I’ll drive behind grandma and grandpa who play it safe and go 5-15 mph under the speed limit.

There will be a landscaper’s truck and trailer going the exact same speed next to them, and behind me will be a tinted-glass Monster Truck in a Big Hurry.

At the stoplight no one remembers that Green Means Go.

When I try to make my left turn across the six-lane throughway, I’m behind the gentleman eating his lunch and checking his text messages.

Blocking my entry into the bank parking lot is a stalled minivan overflowing with mud-covered kids and loose soccer balls going in every direction.

Invariably, I walk into the bank to make my deposit at 12:16 pm on the first of the month when everyone has just gotten his or her paycheck, social security check, estate windfall, and yearly bonus.  Without fail, the bank is understaffed.

The first few people to get in line could see the ropes that traced where people should stand, but now the semblance of order is but a wispy contrail in a cloudy sky.

I call this Meditation Camp.

People pay big money for meditation opportunities like this, but I get all of it for free.

How easy it would be to just pull out my phone and write emails, check Facebook, and message friends.  But I know this is Meditation Camp and I will not fall prey to tech-sloth today!

So, here I am, all wound up and ready to go.  Let the games begin!

I turn my phone off, completely off.

I stand upright and make sure my feet are parallel.  I bounce up and down a little like I’m getting ready for the sprint.  Three boys across the room mimic me.

A hand reaches down from the ceiling and screws a wire into the top of my head.  No one around me seems to notice this.  I feel my chin tuck in a little and my spine straighten when the wire gently pulls me upright.

I let my arms hang heavy in my shoulder sockets; I don’t hold anything in my hands.

Like a marionette, I am hanging loose.

I soften my gaze and take in everything in sight equally; I don’t stare or focus on anything in particular, not even the child in front of me with a Cheeto up her nose.

I listen in the same way, hearing the ocean of voices around me but not focusing on particular cries or guffaws.

I let my body breathe.

In my mind’s eye there is a swinging door that swings towards me when I breathe in, and swings out when I breathe out.  Sometimes the hinges are squeaky.

In my mind’s eye there is a thin curtain hanging over an open window that flutters towards me when I breathe in, and flutters away from me when I breathe out.  It is translucent and frayed a little at the edges.

In my mind’s eye there is a small wave on the beach that breaks and washes towards me when I breathe in, and runs down the sand and back into the sea when I breathe out.  A sand piper scurries to and fro amidst the bubbles rising through the sand as the wave retreats.

The whole world expands when I breathe in, contracts when I breathe out.  I just stand in line and watch my breathing.

Everyone in line at the bank is breathing in, and then breathing out.  The Cheeto-nosed girl is doing this through her mouth.

The tellers behind the counter are breathing in, and then breathing out.  I can feel the whole bank expanding and contracting.

Through the window I can see the shrubs and trees, they are also breathing in and breathing out.

I am feeling so good being stuck in line here at the bank, I am seriously considering going over to the DMV and renewing my driver’s license.

Now it’s time for you to go find a line to get stuck in so you can experience your own Meditation Camp.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

And please, leave a comment and let me know about your standing-in-line experiences!

7 thoughts on “Standing In Line

  1. Love this! Thanks for posting it. Sometimes I try to meditate in line at Seessel’s (Kroger, whatever) but inevitably there is someone I know in the next line over, so I have to stop and have a visit with them.

  2. I love the idea of having an open meditation practice, that includes the possibility that others, like you, are not just a-holes blocking the path but on a path (of their own and also intimate with yours,) in a line but also in a-lign-ment and sort of thank goodness for that.
    Waiting rooms and elevators have been beautiful, rich micro laboratories for open meditation practice and open dancing practice lately. I brought my small stuffed lady bug toy with me into an elevator for an appointment I was nervous about. She was in my hand, a wee bit embarrassed as the car filled with monday morning bodies. On steps a woman with a small umbrella, red with black dots and, it turned out, a tiny face. My eyes wrinkled up when we noticed each other carrying badges of childlike resilience. Two or three shared breaths later, including all those without ladybug toys or umbrellas we could see, journeying up the midline of a tall building, and I stepped out, helped by contact with those several warm bodies in momentary alignment with mine. And by the ladybug I couldn’t hide from their gazes.

  3. I’m probably the grandma-type going five miles an hour. Reading your line meditation was good for several belly laughs. Seriously, I’m going to do this. It beats going crazy.

  4. I actually look forward to having the bridge go up at times because it forces me to just be sit in the car and enjoy the water view, the birds flying overhead, and the breeze blowing in the window. It just makes me more present to what’s around me, and then I find myself being thankful for that moment’s gifts. Really enjoyed your sharing and am inspired to go deeper.

  5. Thanks Mike for a wonderful and thoughtful post.

    I actual developed this same habit a while back in my daily commute, and some days my practice is better than others. Now, when I get behind a slow moving car in traffic and feel the need to hurry around, I have a voice in my head that reminds me to be patient, open the sun roof or windows, and enjoy being present. The simple act of being more present has helped me avoid more than a few accidents. Like all things in life it is a practice, and needs constant work.

  6. hi Mike! this is so gently clever and earthy….love it. brilliant. so glad I went google-ing for you. sending love and good vibes. Your cousin Cathy.

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