A dear friend, Willy Whitefeather, explained to me some years ago that in Native tradition one cannot join or form a council until they are 51. I was in my mid-40s at the time and hadn’t even thought about being fifty onederful. Since he planted the seed, I had to internalize the question… ‘Why?’ Perhaps maturation and wisdom.
So over the next half-decade I noticed some things about the maturation process, how thoughts changed and feelings of wanting seemed to begin to fade. I can’t imagine what 50 years of the practice would be like and accelerated learning curves seem to be a part of my life, so it may come.
I shared the same wisdom with a Hopi guide a few years ago who was frustrated with lack of access to their council members. I was honored to do so and humbled by the opportunity. It was a new awareness and ‘sense made common’ for him.
The object is stillness, though, and that we can all practice in any given moment. The more we do, the more mindful we become and less stress we carry. It has even been known to turn a mighty river into a wandering stream and vice versa. Chaos and confusion are in the nature of coming to order.
Nothing pulls us into focus like paying attention to the breath. Try it right now, before meditating, even if you’re at your desk at work—pause to take a few deep, deliberate breaths and note how it pulls you together. A basic technique in Zen is to count your breaths, on the inhale, from one to ten. Beginners will have trouble reaching ten; most often, we lose track along the way as our typically racing thoughts distract us. But that’s okay. Just go back to one and start again. It may be all the structure you need for a lifetime’s practice.