When I was little, about 4 years old or so, my beloved grandfather gave me shiny pennies as a treat. I never equated them with currency. It never occurred to me that they could be traded for any sort of goods. I simply thrilled at the beauty of them. I can still feel my heart beating happily when I think about them. They were bright and shiny and special, mostly because they came from my Grandpa. I knew they were gifts of love and I cherished them.
This morning, as I sat in meditation, I found myself wondering what I had done with all those shiny pennies. I remembered receiving them. I re-experienced the joy in my heart and the warmth of my grandfather’s love. Still, I had no recollection of what became of the pennies. I didn’t have a piggy bank. I had no special purse or hiding place. I don’t even remember pushing them into pockets.
It’s funny when a thought takes over a meditation. Regardless of my years of experience, there are times when a thought or a memory inserts and simply refuses to drift away. I have disciplined myself to return my awareness to my breath. But there are those times when the shiny pennies are just too compelling. They grab my attention and won’t let go.
This morning was just such a time. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself … a little tow-headed girl, arm outstretched, palm up, fingers open, eyes closed. I heard my Grandpa’s voice, “Put out your hand and close your eyes. Get ready for a big surprise!” Then became now. I felt a familiar anticipation running through my veins. I re-experienced the elation of feeling the small, cool circle of copper in the center of my tiny hand. Eyes popping open, smiles bursting into giggles. What began as a mindfulness meditation transformed into a moment of magic and I once again experienced the innocence of pure, unconditional love. It was blissful.
I am reminded, too, of my early years of meditation when bliss was a pursuit, not a natural occurrence. Like many beginners, I followed the “rules” of meditation to the letter, expecting the payoff to be swift. Bliss would be mine if I sat quietly in a comfortable location with no distractions, emptying my mind by attending to the ebb and flow of my breath. Inhale. Exhale. No matter what my mind presented, I would dutifully go back to my breath and effortlessly achieve Nirvana. This went on for years! The only thing missing was the state of Nirvana.
I blamed myself. I judged myself a failure. I cursed my mind for its refusal to open the gates of Bliss. But a funny thing happened on my way to Nirvana, I began to notice that day-to-day life ran a little more smoothly, minor frustrations failed to escalate to major melodramas. I stopped cursing other drivers on the freeway. I learned to tolerate discomfort. Sadness was sadness and joy was joy. While no Nirvana, it was, I had to admit … nice.
After a time, nice is … nice. Meditation is a practice not a pursuit. Moments of bliss arise. Some are remembered. Some are spontaneous. All are shiny pennies. They needn’t be collected. They aren’t for commerce. They are moments of innocence, of pure unconditional love of the self by the Self.
May you open to the love that is your birthright. May you notice the shiny pennies at your fingertips. May you free yourself from the pursuit of Nirvana and enjoy life’s many moments of bliss.
~ Namaste ~