I am grateful for leaf blowers. Not in spite of, but precisely because of the annoying noise they make. On a recent cool morning I was lucky enough to be sitting on a deep porch overlooking the Old River on Perdido Key in Florida. My coffee in hand I settled into a chair in a half lotus position watching pelicans flying low over the water in their focused hunt for fish. It was a perfect place to meditate listening to the lap of the water below and the call of the birds above.

At that moment someone started a leaf blower across the river. All at once my perfect meditation spot was ruined by the reverberating noise which seemed to obliterate every other sound. 

I tried to move back into gratitude and think about the man somewhere across the river from me who was intent on making a living blowing leaves. Bringing my self back, I closed my eyes and tried again. “I hate leaf blowers, I hate leaf blowers, I hate leaf blowers…” repeated in my head.

I thought of giving up and going back inside hoping the sound would be muffled. And then I made a different choice. I closed my eyes and listened for other sounds. Beneath the noise of the wretched machine was the slap of the water against the slim river beach below, from behind a bird whistled and chattered, a conversation echoed between people working at the beach next door, a thudding hammer signaled repairs being made to a dock after a series of hurricanes during the Summer.

Laughing at myself I realized that the sound of the leaf blower had forced me to focus on all the other things I could hear and I had to be grateful for it too. 

“Transcendence” isn’t a place you get to and stay…it’s something you choose on a moment to moment basis…according to the dictionary, to transcend is to “go beyond limits, to surpass something”. Think of it as a game: you are learning to transcend your own thoughts, irritations, situations. And the great thing is we are given opportunities to practice all day, every day!

  1. Transcendence isn’t a destination, it’s a moment to moment choice.
  2. Choosing to “move beyond” something like irritation or fear is a practice.
  3. Your practice is anytime, anywhere: fearful, irritated, angry? Time to practice!
  4. Moving beyond your own thoughts is also a form of transcendence.
  5. Engage in non-fruitive action: do things for the sake of doing them, not in pursuit of a goal, do it for fun!
  6. Surrender: engage in whatever situations you are given, they are your best teachers and a virtual practice field available every moment of the day.
  7. Try not to take it (or yourself) too seriously, think of the whole thing as a big game.