We all have definitions and labels for ourselves. Some of them are firmly rooted in our personal biases, but many are actually just simple assertions of fact. “I am a writer. I am a yogi. I am a woman.” You get the idea. They seem innocent enough, right?
Most of the time, we don’t think about how often these short sentences can end up limiting our perspective of what our inner selves could actually be. Even the most positive framework still leaves you in a box of some sort. And it’s only in a select few environments that we are able to turn off the labeling machines that are our brains and just exist as we do without overthinking our presence in the world.
Most of these scenes occur in nature. Mine are recurring locations of my adolescence in North Carolina — the silent mountains of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the motionless Lake Norman at sunrise, the expanse of Sunset Beach at low tide in the wintertime. These are the places where I’m able to forget about my physical body, forget about the physical bodies of others around me, and just breathe. My mind moves to a tranquil state within minutes, and I have no need to worry, no need to think, no need to define anything.
This is my meditative space (or least the closest I’ve come to it). It’s hard to recreate — especially while living in New York City — but it’s always worth the attempt. So much of the chatter in our minds is created by our own selves, and even if it stems from good intentions, it prevents us from connecting with what remains inside when the chatter disappears. I want that connection. I firmly believe in its value. And so I practice every day, mentally bringing myself back to these natural scenes of peace that have brought me comfort throughout my life.
What does this space look like for you? What do you find when you enter it? Do your personal labels and definitions fall away too?