spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily

Dharma Lullabies


My one and only pops dharma talks the way some people pop sleeping pills. Those Buddhist teachings are meant to awaken meditators, not put them to sleep. But my one and only is not sitting lotus-like on a cushion. She is in bed. Possibly she meditates; after all, she is aging and will someday do her final meditations lying down. But now, she is restless an hour or two too early for us to get coffee, or do anything, unless we want to do it in the dark. When I see a faint light and hear a voice other than my one and only’s in the bedroom, I know she has tuned her iPad to a dharma talk and wants it to put her to sleep.

At three in the morning, who teaches doesn’t matter. It’s a special voice she’s after. Not too soporific nor too soprano. If a giggly monk cracks dharma jokes, that’s no good either. There’s a Spirit Rock speaker she likes in person, but emanating from the iPad, his voice is a monotone, and she can’t sleep. One teacher from a Redwood City sangha is really smart, but he often clears his throat, and she finds this won’t do. As a rule, she never chooses foreign voices, although once she did fall asleep to a French woman’s heavily accented, giggly voice. But that happened only once. The topic must have done the trick.

When I am restless or upset at an unreasonable hour, I too like a soothing voice. Kind tones calm me unless I am really riled up, then wrap me in my comfort coat and tighten those Velcro straps. Maybe dharma talks issuing from just the right voice are my one and only's electronic comfort coat. The dharma of the Buddha thus spoken could assure her she is on the path awake or asleep. The soothing voice is school at its best at three in the morning when the path is not obvious. About five in the morning, we will awake for coffee and a walk; and once settled back at the house, she will sit for awake meditation. Kudos to my one and only. From the first three singing bowls through the last, she stays focused and aware of whatever arises even as I wrestle an orange and blue lion plus kong with a squeak for a roar. In the picture you see me toy in mouth during meditation.

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