I freed up some space in my head today that allowed me to start writing here again. I finally accepted that I don’t need to have things figured out. I don’t need to know what my next step is or where my writing is taking me. I can just write and see where it takes me. Today, I'm writing about meditation and it takes me back to summer camp.
It was the summer of 1974 when I entered the wood-beamed lodge in Wolverine, Michigan, with my fellow members of the Santa Clara Valley Gymnastics Team. The Beach Boys “California Girls” was still popular on the radio so every child in the camp was waiting for us with wide eyes like we were elusive animals. Surely we were an oddity to our audience. We were a dozen tan, athletic, mostly-blond young girls who had traveled to camp by airplane, leaving our idyllic California beaches for three midwest weeks at gymnastics training camp.
I remember walking into the lodge like it was yesterday. More clearly, I remember realizing for the first time that people can develop opinions about you before they meet you. The local campers were primed and ready to idolize the California girls. And idolize they did. We walked into that lodge like we were walking down the red carpet.
Thankfully, kids are kids, and soon enough we all just became kids at camp. The idolizing was tempered as they discovered we didn’t live on the beach in Malibu, we didn’t hang around with the Beach Boys and weren’t friends with their favorite movie stars.
The only other memory I have about that summer in Michigan was being introduced to meditation. Every evening, after a long day of multiple workouts and strenuous training sessions, we were instructed to lie down on our backs on the floor in a big room upstairs in the lodge. The leader, a pretty German woman whose name I don’t recall, talked softly over the background music as she led us through our mind/body relaxation session. Focus on one arm, one leg, body sinking into the floor, mind empty and free. At first I thought it was annoying. I wasn’t used to being still. I was fidgety and uncomfortable and wanted it to be over. But her voice was soothing, and my body was tired, and soon enough, I was resting still and focusing on her voice. That was 43 years ago and that is the one memory I have of being at the camp after our auspicious arrival.
I don’t want to admit that a little camp session about learning to calm my mind and body impacted my life, but it kind of did. I’ve never labeled it meditation, but throughout my years, I have referred back to that process I learned on the lodge floor. I do my best thinking when I let my body relax and my thoughts float around without direction or purpose. When I let my mind go free, the ideas and intentions I care about most come to the forefront. That may not be how some define meditation, but it is my meditation. I learned it at summer camp when I was thirteen years old, and it works for me.
Early this year, I was invited to participate in an online Meditation Summit. It is the launch of a new business venture called Balanced: Mind, Body, Soul, created by Hailey Lott, the young and wise daughter of my dear friends. Meditation is Hailey's main game and she was curating all forms of mindful living interviews for her online summit. I haven’t seen my interview so who knows what I contributed, but lots of other interesting people were being interviewed so it is definitely worth checking out. The free program launches June 12th and you can sign up here!
Being invited to do that interview got me thinking about meditation, which brought forward that long-ago memory of gymnastics camp and got me out of my head long enough to start writing again. Thank you Hailey!
Check out Hailey's summit to explore what meditation can be for you.