The current lesson of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course that I am completing includes the mountain meditation. It is a guided meditation with visual imagery. First, the mountain is visualized as strong, beautiful and subject to constant change and harsh conditions. After this, there is the invitation to visualize oneself as the mountain, to internalize this image of an integral whole that includes both flux and stability. We are subject to changing conditions and the passage of seasons on the outside but our insides stay firm and whole.

It’s a strong image and one that also brings positive associations to me because of my love of the mountains in the area in which I live. I do know,  however, that mountains change from the inside out. I remember when Mt. St. Helen’s erupted. It was May 18th, 1980. I also remember the date of my breast cancer diagnosis. It was May 24th, 2012.

In my life, I am an astute observer. I see what is happening around me. I can anticipate many things headed my way. I protect my exterior. There is something about the discovery that there is something working to destroy one from the inside, where it cannot be seen or felt, that turns life upside down and calls into question one’s own sense of being a solid self.

Identity is something that consolidates after adolescence but it is subject to some changes over time.  We often ask ourselves questions. Am I a good person? Am I a good spouse?  Am I a good parent? Being good enough is hard to determine. There is always room to be better. It is not an absolute and goodness is multi-faceted. In respect to being good spouse or good parent, it also depends to a certain extent on another person. My parenting abilities depend somewhat on what my child needs and what she is able to provide for herself. I can’t define being “good” at a relationship solely on my own terms.

Earlier in the week, I was doing the mountain meditation. When it was suggested that I imagine myself as the mountain, I smiled. After that, the meditation changed from a guided one to a silent meditation. During the silent part, I thought of my core, the parts of me that cannot change. “Person. Mother. Wife. Friend.”

The fact that I have been a person, a friend, a mother, and a wife will always be true, just as Mt. St. Helen’s used to be a beautiful symmetrical peak.

There are things about each of us, very important things, that will always be true.

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