Last week at a mindfulness course we did the mountain meditation. I listened to it again this morning. It says to compare ourselves to a mountain. Life happens. Storms rage. Winds howl. The sun shines. Snow glitters. People talk about it. Some people think it’s ugly. Some people think it’s beautiful. Yet through whatever happens, the mountain remains the mountain. It changes on the surface. It’s affected by the surface. Yet, it remains. The mountain. Stalwart. Mostly still. Except for volcanic mountains. There the change isn’t just on the surface, it’s affected internally too. Yet, there too, it remains. The mountain. I liked listening to. I like the analogy. It describes life in a way I can’t. It defines life in a really helpful way.
Regardless of what happens, we are, I am. It is. And it is. It doesn’t really define us. The storms can thunder, lightning crash the trees, wind send avalanches wrecking everything, yet, the mountain remains. We remain.
One Hundred and Forty Seven. The mountain.
Mountain Meditation Script (excerpt)
As you sit here, letting an image form in your mind’s eye, of the most magnificent or beautiful mountain you know or have seen or can imagine…, letting it gradually come into greater focus… and even if it doesn’t come as a visual image, allowing the sense of this mountain and feeling its overall shape, its lofty peak or peaks high in the sky, the large base rooted in the bedrock of the earth’s crust, it’s steep or gently sloping sides… Noticing how massive it is, how solid, how unmoving, how beautiful, whether from a far or up close…(pause)
Perhaps your mountain has snow blanketing its top and trees reaching down to the base, or rugged granite sides… there may be streams and waterfalls cascading down the slopes… there may be one peak or a series of peaks, or with meadows and high lakes… Observing it, noting its qualities and when you feel ready, seeing if you can bring the mountain into your own body sitting here so that your body and the mountain in your mind’s eye become one so that as you sit here, you share in the massiveness and the stillness and majesty of the mountain, you become the mountain. Grounded in the sitting posture, your head becomes the lofty peak, supported by the rest of the body and affording a panoramic view. Your shoulders and arms the sides of the mountain. Your buttocks and legs the solid base, rooted to your cushion or your chair, experiencing in your body a sense of uplift from deep within your pelvis and spine. With each breath, as you continue sitting, becoming a little more a breathing mountain, alive and vital, yet unwavering in your inner stillness, completely what you are, beyond words and thought, a centered, grounded, unmoving presence…
As you sit here, becoming aware of the fact that as the sun travels across the sky, the light and shadows and colors are changing virtually moment by moment in the mountain’s stillness, and the surface teems with life and activity… streams, melting snow, waterfalls, plants and wildlife. As the mountain sits, seeing and feeling how night follows day and day follows night. The bright warming sun, followed by the cool night sky studded with stars, and the gradual dawning of a new day…
Through it all, the mountain just sits, experiencing change in each moment, constantly changing, yet always just being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow into one another and as the weather changes moment by moment and day by day, calmness abiding all change… In summer, there is no snow on the mountain except perhaps for the very peaks or in crags shielded from direct sunlight. In the fall, the mountain may wear a coat of brilliant fire colors. In winter, a blanket of snow and ice. In any season, it may find itself at times enshrouded in clouds or fog or pelted by freezing rain. People may come to see the mountain and comment on how beautiful it is or how it’s not a good day to see the mountain, that it’s too cloudy or rainy or foggy or dark. None of this matters to the mountain, which remains at all times its essential self. Clouds may come and clouds may go, tourists may like it or not. The mountain’s magnificence and beauty are not changed one bit by whether people see it or not, seen or unseen, in sun or clouds, broiling or frigid, day or night.
It just sits, being itself.
At times visited by violent storms, buffeted by snow and rain and winds of unthinkable
magnitude. Through it all, the mountain sits. Spring comes, trees leaf out, flowers bloom in the high meadows and slopes, birds sing in the trees once again. Streams overflow with the waters of melting snow.
Through it all, the mountain continues to sit, unmoved by the weather, by what happens on its surface, by the world of appearances… remaining its essential self, through the seasons, the changing weather, the activity ebbing and flowing on its surface…
In the same way, as we sit in meditation, we can learn to experience the mountain, we can embody the same central, unwavering stillness and groundedness in the face of everything that changes in our own lives, over seconds, over hours, over years.
In our lives and in our meditation practice, we experience constantly the changing nature of mind and body and of the outer world, we have our own periods of light and darkness, activity and inactivity, our moments of color and our moments of drabness.
It’s true that we experience storms of varying intensity and violence in the outer world
and in our own minds and bodies, buffeted by high winds, by cold and rain, we endure
periods of darkness and pain, as well as the moments of joy and uplift, even our appearance
changes constantly, experiencing a weather of it’s own…
By becoming the mountain in our meditation practice, we can link up with its strength
and stability and adopt them for our own. We can use its energies to support our energy to encounter each moment with mindfulness and equanimity and clarity. It may help us to see that our thoughts and feelings, our preoccupations, our emotional storms and crises, even the things that happen to us are very much like the weather on the mountain. We tend to take it all personally, but its strongest characteristic is impersonal.
The weather of our own lives is not be ignored or denied, it is to be encountered,
honored, felt, known for what it is, and held in awareness… And in holding it in this way, we come to know a deeper silence and stillness and wisdom.