Everything is still in the morning. The chill of the Autumn wind blows gently through my open window; the first streaks of the golden sunrise begin to peak in the distance and I pause to watch.
I can hear the beginning of birdsongs as they signal the morning, the rattle of a passing freight train as it chugs along, and the scrape of the carving knife as I gently whittle away. Fresh coffee is always best at this time in the morning, coffee and pine wood are the smells that linger in the air as I sit, carving in quiet bliss.
At this point of the day I don't look at any screens, I don't listen to any music or watch anything, I'm simply in this moment. This is my meditation, my time of stillness. Nothing has yet entered my head, no news has been read that can influence me in a negative way. It's become my morning ritual throughout the pandemic, through the lockdown. Just to have this time in the morning is enough to steel my mind for the day.
There's a misconception that the only way to achieve peace through meditation is to sit with your legs in a pretzel shape like a yogi for a while, but not everyone can do this, not everyone has the inclination to inteseley focus themselves in this particular way. I've found that the kind of quiet, calm in meditation is achieved through recognising the times when you're already doing it without realising it and focusing on them.
Woodworkers, whittlers and carvers are nearly all Zen masters in my opinion, in fact that extends to anyone who creates, writers, painters, knitters, photographers, cooks, musicians and so on, maybe that didn't occur to you until now, I don't think many of them realise they meditate. When you find yourself in such an intense focus, lets say drawing, you literally feel the tip of the pencil move across the paper. Carving is the same, you become so finely tuned to the knife edge that there is no other thought in your head. Nothing disturbs you, you lose all sense of time as you are completely absorbed in the task without any distractions.
This is meditation, you don't need to sit cross legged, counting your breaths. You just need to recognise you're in a state of calm and you will see the value of it, feel the benefits of it even more. That feeling will start to spill over and carry into your day to day.
The Pandemic has forced us to stay in our homes and, at first, this was a novelty and completely new to us. But it's now having detrimental effects on our mental health, particularly because the only real news we are getting from the world at large is pandemic, pandemic, pandemic and it's pushing us into a state of depression, panic and anxiety.
I challenge you to find your moments of meditation. You don't need to be an ultra creative; it can just be a moment of the morning where you drink coffee and listen to the sounds outside, a stroll in nature or a time for quiet reading. In your moment of calm just remember that all of this will one day be all but a memory, anxiety will pass, we can move through depression but also, more importantly, you're not alone.