This is a post about the meditation I am doing on love. But before we get to the redeemable side of my character, I need to make a detour. To my snarky side.
Snarky me wants to say one thing: for months back in 2005 I was acutely disappointed that I didn’t know where to buy those yellow rubber Livestrong bracelets. Once, I even tried to slip one off the wrist of a colleague who had over-imbibed Johnny Walker Red. However, while he was too drunk to find the urinal, he was not too drunk to make a fist and prevent me from stealing his bracelet.
So, I never got one of those bracelets, and today, I am vindicated. Also, Mammalingo says that Lance Armstrong is going to have to either (1) pay back the U.S. Postal Service or (2) start delivering mail on his bicycle in his old uniform. The fact that any of this makes me happy is proof that I need to be meditating on love early and often.
I have been flirting with meditation for years, which is a by-product of being a spiritual seeker. Oh, and also surviving a nasty eating disorder and then working the 12-steps that suggest that one make use of “prayer and meditation” to recover from that soul sickness. Whatever.
Anyway, I decided to get serious about it again recently, because my mind was getting bogged down with all the bad news. You know exactly what I am talking about, right? My brain was starting to warp from all the negativity. If I saw sunlight beaming through a majestic leafless tree, I would immediately start fretting about the environmental catastrophe we are inexorably headed towards. If I had a wonderful day with my kids painting surreal pictures of Spiderman riding dolphins, my mind would step in and whisper, “something horrible is probably going to happen soon, either here or in Syria.”
I couldn’t take it anymore.
Medication wasn’t the answer, because I am already medicated, and it didn’t feel like a somatic problem. It felt like a soul problem.
So naturally I turned to my guru, Anne Lamott, whose recent memoir Some Assembly Required, offered some spiritual direction. Besides reminding me that I am not the only one suffering from a mind that runs amok on an egocentric and fear-based course, Lamott referred often to her own meditation. One of her chants is now my mantra.
Baba nam kevalam (Sanskrit for “love is all there is”).
It’s simple and soothing, if a little hard to believe on a gut level. And, after three weeks, I am still trying to memorize the Sanskrit words. Seems like I should have mastered that by now, but it’s slow to sink in.
I use it even if I am saying the wrong words. When I am suffocating on a crowded train, I do my best. Sometimes I say “baba lama keva” or “nam nam baba” but it still works, because I know what I am trying to say: “love is all there is.”
And you know what? I am starting to see more love. Everywhere. When the tsunami of fear threatens, I start repeating my chant, because I don’t want to be swallowed by darkness. I am starting to build muscles stronger than my fear ones. Each time I attempt the chant, I surrender a little more to the fact that the world is a horrible, dangerous place for so many people. But for the moments I am concentrating on Baba nam kevalam, I create a little more space for love. Because even if it’s not all there is, it certainly is a part. And I want to do my part to make that part a little bigger.
Baba nam kevalam.