Being Quiet

My mentor and friend Grace Lee Boggs died on Monday. I’ve been writing about her since then – poems, memories, what I learned. I’m not ready to post it yet. But meditation has been helping me move through it, so I wanted to share some thoughts on that, from before and after.


I’ve been meditating 37 minutes a day this month in honor of turning 37. I added another minute yesterday, I’m wanting to get up to an hour daily, maybe more.

Here’s some reflections:

What I’m mostly doing is intentionally being quiet inside and out. To listen to my breath and body means to quiet the distractions. Outside distractions are impossible to control but getting easier to see, release.

Inside…whew. I notice my breath for two seconds and then I start thinking about something, coming up with an idea, writing this piece, reliving a conversation. Then I notice where I am, pick up my attention, bring it back. Three seconds later it’s onto another thought journey away from center.

I must admit that I like what I think during this time. It makes me realize how much I need quiet time to work, because a deeper stranger part of my brain becomes available in the silence.

I also love how it feels to abandon the thought, undone, and return to my center, to my breath. I find my thoughts are all equal in a way…most of them concerning something beyond my control, trying to figure out how I could have controlled it in the past or how I will control it in the future. When I surrender thinking for brief seconds I feel so free.


On the day Grace died, I meditated three times. Twice before I got the news, and then a 100 minute sit at the end of the day, a minute for each of her years. It was a journey, at times chaotic, at times so full. By the end it was slow, calm. I didn’t know I could be still for that long.

Sitting still is about the only thing that feels right right now. I’m craving so much more quiet. On one of my last visits with Grace, I asked her what she was thinking about. She smiled and looked a bit surprised, and she said, ‘not much!’, and there was so much wonder in it.

I have been sifting through my memories. I think Grace is the only person of color I’ve known to die at peace. That is massive to sit with. I am joyful for her and grateful that she told us she was ready in so many ways.

It means it’s possible. I’ll think more on that eventually.

Right now, I just miss her so much. Being quiet is the only way to handle that.