The 10-Minute Train-in-a-Sliver-of-Sun Meditation and Other Moments Seized

On a recent walk home from picking up groceries, I got stuck on the wrong side of the tracks, waiting for a seemingly interminable freight train to pass. Already, I was frustrated. Grocery shopping and cooking have become a whole fraught story, since a bad blood test in mid-January has forced me onto a super low potassium diet. This means cutting out nearly all my favorite foods (Chocolate! Avocado! So many leafy greens! Sweet potatoes! Broccoli! Beans! Almonds!) So, the groceries were extra heavy with my resentment. I was primed to fight against the reality of the train preventing me from getting back to the place where I was staying (I was away). And a strange thing happened. Instead of feeling frustrated, I seized the moment.

It was a day of thin winter sun, but still, sun. Wow. After so much grey. I turned my face to the light and closed my eyes. Without any conscious thought, the gesture transformed into a meditation. I listened to the sounds around me. I was standing close to the tracks. The thundering of the passing train drowned out the world, except for the occasional near sound, which I couldn’t identify and didn’t open my eyes to understand. I trusted that the source of the sound was not threatening, even though I wasn’t in familiar territory. I let everything wash over me. The sound of heavy metal rolling over metal. The heat of the sun and around the edges of the sun’s reach, the crisp cold of the day. I stood this way, eyes closed, ears tuning, face basking, my arms hanging still by my sides, grocery bags in hand. Legs straight, but not locked. Relative stillness. I knew that cars and pedestrians and bundled up winter cyclists were building up on either side of the train track. I could have felt exposed, with my eyes closed as the world changed around me. Instead, I felt the energy inside me, expanding like a balloon, offering me ballast. I felt the freedom of being somewhere nobody knows me; a lightness of being.

I don’t know how long it took for the train to pass. My best guess is around 10 minutes. I felt refreshed and invigorated after my impromptu meditation. When I got on my next call and the woman asked me how I was, the sparkle in my answer surprised both of us.

Why don’t I always do this sort of thing when ten spare minutes present themselves? Instead of flopping on the couch and looking at my phone. I set an intention to seize more moments. I would not say that I have knocked that intention out of the park exactly. I have been more conscious of noticing the short bites of time between things and enjoying them more.

Out in Canmore, Alberta, where I was for the last weeks to feed my profound love of cross-country skiing (and see Calgary family), I took to heading out on a fat bike for 15-20 minutes in the afternoon, to break up my work day with an afternoon snack of fresh air and snow (in addition to my food snack!). It was my first time trying that sport and I rented the bike without knowing whether I’d like it (would my hands and toes be frozen?). I had so much fun pushing the bike up hills too steep and/or deep to ride and floating back down on the bike; often falling into a soft cushion of snow.

My ski first thing in the morning was a profound pleasure (it’s one of my favourite ways to move) and, as my workout for the day, there were goals (the work in workout). Side note: In one of those there-are-no-coincidences, one of the few sounds I would hear during my forest-quiet morning skis was the early train, whispering to me, seize the moment.

Canmore forest and mountains with mountain bike. Mina in her bike helmet and just before the sun hits the mountains (from the nordic center).

The afternoons were for seized moments. I had no goals on the fat bike. When I saw a gap in my work flow, I’d jump into my winter gear and ride into the forest behind the house.

And, I want to release even more pressure from this idea. Seizing the moment has such an active ring to it, which can be pre-defeating, when I’m not feeling go-get-em-ish. Sometimes seizing the moment simply looks like not wrecking the moment. Here’s some recent examples of me not destroying a moment:

  • I am just about to turn into the Nordic ski center, when I realize that I forgot to put my skis back in the car after I returned the rental fat bike. Instead of cursing myself out for my stupidity (which is so classic and why am I always so stupid), I sighed, made a U-turn and told myself that the podcast I was listening to in the car was excellent and now I had 20 more minutes to listen to it (given the extra drive would be 10 minutes each way). Plus, I wonder if this mishap was the universe’s way of ensuring I kept my ski to 45 minutes (as my body needed, after 13 days straight of skiing/fat biking), because now I had less time and couldn’t fall into my usual pattern of oh-it’s-so-beautiful-and-rare-to-be-out-here-I’ll-just-do-another-hill until my ski extended to 90 minutes.
  • Sitting at a bakery in Canmore, I realize I forgot the last bits of food in the fridge at the house where I’d been staying and had to pass back by again before heading to Calgary. See above for my wreck the moment reaction (stupid, stupid, stupid). Instead, I shook my head and was glad that I had lots of time.
  • On my taxi ride back from the airport, after a 90-minute flight delay and then a further 75 minutes waiting for my skis to come out at the oversized baggage area, and now an hourlong drive home, which meant I was going to be cutting it very tight for my dinner plans with friends; instead of texting about my aggravation to lots of people, I decided to watch the last episode of season 3 of Derry Girls, which I’d downloaded to my iPad and had been reveling in on the plane. Okay—so maybe Netflix doesn’t seem like seizing the moment or not wrecking a moment, but in the moment, the choice felt so enjoyable and peaceful, which is not how I’d normally think of a cab ride home from the airport after many delays.

None of these are quite the train-in-the-sunshine meditation. Still, each of these is a baby step in the direction of seizing more moments (and wrecking fewer). Celebrating the baby steps is at the core of moments seized.



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