The experience of rebirth doesn’t come with an age limit. The earth is four and a half billion years old, but every spring it still bursts forth with fresh growth and new life after winter’s challenges and burdens. Your life isn’t simply a straight line that gets longer with each new year; it’s a fascinating collection of cycles. This is evident in the different phases and rites of passage throughout your life—and encapsulated within each new day.
It’s hard to deny the striking parallel between single days and the seasons that span across a year, but it can be difficult to be conscious of this beautiful metaphor in the midst of our daily responsibilities and distractions. Every morning, you rise from a mini winter of hibernation to face a spring morning of gradual awakening and stretching into the day. Midday is like the summer, bringing with it the most warmth and energy, before the evening fall begins to slow us down once again. Here, we wrap up the day and head into another night of dormancy. How many of these vital daily cycles are we all sure to have missed out on over the years, concerning ourselves far too much with the goals and expectations of a more linear path?
Our Lives Gracefully Ride Seasonal Waves
Those of us who enjoy the wisdom and perspective of older age may be in a better position to wake up this spring morning into the realization of and re-aligning with our natural, personal, and global life cycles. With this greater awareness, we can see how impractical and unlikely it is for us to try to live within and feed into a straight line—by the day, the week, the year, the decade.
By opening up to our cyclical nature, we learn to accept and embrace our changing needs at times: for rest, forgiveness, inspiration, rejuvenation, concentration, and then release and settling and rest again. These cycles happen each year, they happen each day, and they can even happen on a smaller scale by the moment. Meditation offers a way for us to tap into this awareness. Kind of like switching on the TV and navigating to a certain channel, we can concentrate our awareness through a certain window of understanding.
Meditation Is Mindful Listening
I can say with trustworthy abandon that meditation really is for everyone because meditation, as an experience, looks entirely different from person to person. As a practice, individuals have found various prompts and steps that have been effective in their meditative experiences, so they share them. You may find that those examples of practice are helpful, or you may find that you want to step back and trust your own intuition, you own creative process of tuning into a new channel of awareness.
There is no wrong way to meditate. If you’ve been present with the experience of reading these words up to this point, you’ve been practicing tuning in your awareness; you’ve been meditating! How could there be a definitive way of meditating? Your personal path for mindfulness depends on where you are in the moment—where you are amidst the seasons of your life.
Sharing the Wisdom of Meditation in the San Francisco Community
It’s great to be able to play with some different ideas and practices of meditation so we can come to appreciate our different needs at different times, and so we know to grab the opportunity for rebirth and growth when we encounter something that asks us to stretch beyond what we know. Fortunately, San Francisco is a city rich with these “universal TV remotes” and meditative channels, so you have the option of exploring your expanding spring awareness in your own quiet company, or in a group that is exploring it collectively. Follow the links to learn more about the local meditation opportunities below, and feel free to reach out to these organizations directly as you stretch wider and broader out of your winter hibernation.
- Mindfulness Care Center
A relaxed and inclusive setting, this center will welcome you to be yourself even as you begin to stretch and breathe beyond yourself. They offer basic “insight awareness” meditation classes each week, as well as mindfulness groups focused specifically for women, for grief and loss, for stress reduction, and for trauma and anxiety.
– Address: 42 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
– Phone: (415) 503-1971
– Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mission Dharma
This gathering is another relaxed environment that values meditation and sharing in community. The group meets each week to sit and be together, and instructors also offer more immersive courses in insight meditation.
– Address: 1661 15th Street at Julian Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94103
– Email: email@example.com
- Integral Yoga Institute
A community grounded in classical yoga traditions, the Institute offers many weekly opportunities for meditation—both guided sessions and those that are more open and organic. Get in touch to see if these gatherings might be right for you to try.
– Address: 770 Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
– Phone: (415) 821-1117
- San Francisco Insight Meditation Community
These meditation meetings are invitations for those with and without meditation experience to join in. This is another great chance to share in others’ ideas for meditative practices—and to surround yourself with people saying “yes” to the stretching and exploration of spring.
– Address: 1187 Franklin Street at Geary Boulevard, San Francisco CA 94109
– Phone: (415) 776-4580
At any time, any day, you can pause to practice opening up your awareness around your experiences. By simply tuning into your sensations, your emotions, and even your thoughts more clearly, you are sharpening that awareness. And you’re experiencing your moments and your life more fully.
If you’ve resonated with these ideas of seasons contained in each day and in each moment, try out this guided meditation we are eager to share. You need only to settle into your seat wherever you may be, hit “play,” and close your eyes.
We age with grace when we embrace the waves and uncertainties of life. We age with resiliency when we embrace these waves and uncertainties as opportunities for growth and renewal. This spring, tune in to the way your life is spontaneously flowing and renewing with each and every moment. This can be an intimate and individual journey for you, or you can tap into the San Francisco community of people who are opening their eyes, ears, and hearts to be reminded of life’s natural flow.
Institute on Aging is committed to helping you navigate aging authentically and gracefully. Reach out to us for more ideas about meditation and other activities that can bring you closer to mindfulness and acceptance of this inspiring phase of life.