dying flowers = dying practice

by vanessagobes

When I first decided to make my own altar for meditating, someone told me to include some or all of the following:  a Buddha statue, a bell, a stone for stillness, a candle for insight, incense and fresh flowers.  I procured a few of these things and laid them neatly on a small silver side table in my bedroom.  I arranged a tiny vase of delicate flowers and tended to the altar with my most peaceful breathing and my quietest mind for about 3 days.  Then life got busy.

A few weeks went by.  One night I caught a glimpse of those flowers from the corner of my eye as I was dashing out the door.  They sure weren’t fresh flowers anymore.  They were brittle, crunchy spikes and twigs connected by cobwebs.  Oops.

That vase of dead flowers on my altar represented my dying practice.  Clearly, ignoring my altar was synonymous with ignoring the commit to a purposeful practice.

But I didn’t see it that way then.  I just thought, Well, I guess I just am not the type who likes to sit down formally and meditate.  So I replaced the twiggy flowers with a beautiful crystal and began to treat the altar like a decoration in the corner of my bedroom.  Instead of sitting with my Buddhist schwag, I meditated in bed, on my couch, in my parked car, in the shower.  I just found moments here and there, wedging quiet, focused breaths between errands and obligations.

Since formally committing to Buddhism, I have noticed a shift in my priorities.  I no longer squeeze mindfulness into random parts of my day.  Instead, I wake up in the morning, bow at the door to my Breathing Room, adorned with my homemade altar and a potted plant, and sit down to pay attention to the Bodhisattva in me that is longing to be discovered and released full throttle.  And before I leave the room, I make sure to water my flowers.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa