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The Stick

I have a wise and beautiful friend who spends a large part of each year at her home in India. She’s a meditator of more than 30 years, and shared with me an idea about meditation that deeply touched me.

A ceremony in India is called a puja. When an important puja is happening, an elephant will be hired to lead the procession to the event. And because elephants are highly intelligent and curious creatures, the trainer and elephant have made an agreement. When the trainer hands the elephant a special stick, the elephant recognizes what this means: it’s time to pay attention, it’s time to lead. If there was no such agreement, no stick, the elephant would be tempted to wander down the colorful streets, where the sights and smells of the city would lead him off his path.

In meditation, our breath is the stick. Without it, our curious minds will drift away, down the streets of our imagination. The breath keeps us Here, so we can practice being on the path to a more relaxed mind, a more peaceful experience of ourselves, a broader perspective of life. Our practice impacts everything we do, by waking us up to the sweetness of the puja that is our life.

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