My mother taught me basic meditation skills when I was quite young. If you’ve ever been to a Quaker Meeting, you’ll get an idea of the Meetings I grew up with. Lots of quiet sitting, especially for a little kid. When an old friend called recently, he recalled with wonder about how we sat so still in Meeting. I laughed, thinking about how Mom taught me to sit like that.
She said to “sit and concentrate on your breath going in and out.” Then, when I would get restless again, “sit and listen for your heartbeat.” One time she told me to “sit and taste my spit,” an instruction I find hilarious now. Or “sit and feel all the little ridges on the roof of your mouth with your tongue.” My favorite was, “sit and listen to the blood pumping through your arteries and give thanks that you’re alive.”
Lots of sitting still.
Of course, if all else failed and I still squirmed, she would give me “the look”—stern, unflinching—and that would work, too.
Because she was absolutely devoted to God, she would remind me that unless I learned to sit very quietly, I would “miss the Still Small Voice speaking to me.”
My mother died in 1974, which is such a long time ago, and today my spiritual beliefs are not the same as hers were. However, my daily meditation practice is, in many ways, an homage to her, along with my continuing commitment to listen for that still, small voice.