Thursday, February 22, 2018

Seeking Nothing in Montpelier

"Montpelier," watercolor by Hallie Cohen
February 18 marked the beginning of the Tibetan New Year and Shambhala Montpelier celebrated the day with an event that included an hour long meditation and pot luck. Visitors who didn’t feel like doing anything were able to show their affinity with the ideals of the group by turning off Fareed Zakaria’s GPS in the fitness room of the Capitol Plaza, a venerable Federalist structure on Main Street, in the shadow of Montpelier’s incredibly tiny capital gold capital dome (Montpelier is the smallest capital city in the country and has the smallest capital dome) and set the timer of their iPhone to an unchallenging 10 minutes of quiet time. During this period, they were suddenly able to hear things that they might not normally notice, a toilet flushing, the hum of a water cooler, the swishing of cars along the slush filled streets. People spend their lives in practices comprising Herculean feats of stillness and so simply tipping one’s hat to ancient endeavors in such a seemingly off-hand way can seem like a gratuitous act. But even when they’re solitary most human beings in our internet-of-everything world rarely have the experience of being alone and literally striving for nothing. The next time you’re in Montpelier or anywhere for that matter, try taking 10 minutes out of your day in which you're not running errands, making repairs, or vacuuming the inside of your car and assume a meditative posture. Though your eyes will be closed, it will be an eye-opening experience.

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