A Peaceful Place

Two decades ago, in my fifties, life brought a curve ball so profound that it took most of the decade to work through. My children were grown, I was single, and I ached for a place to find peace.

It took a long time to find it, that sweet, singular place where I could go at any time to release all my tension, stress, and anxiety and where a gentle peace washed over and renewed my spirit.

I used to think my best place was near water, for when I sat on the warm granules of ocean sand, my hand shielding my eyes from brilliant sun, watching waves ebb and flow, I felt deeply serene and part of a timeless process. The waves that either fiercely crashed or gently lapped onto shore reminded me of Mother Nature’s vast contrasts, her ferocious, crushing power that could also be both gentle and kind. Yet the salty, sandy seashore was frequently not available to me.

Then I thought my quiet place was in the mountains, where I have lived most of my adult life. Countless times I have gazed at majestic mountains, their swelling contours suggesting to me that profound symbol of nurturance, a woman’s breast, and heard these words silently arise within: I will lift mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help.

Another time I thought I’d found my perfect place in a beautiful magazine picture:

A thirty-ish woman sits cross-legged, eyes closed with a radiant serene look on her perfect skin, her lovely face tilted upward. No wonder: she is surrounded by lavish, large-leafed greenery centering around a large boulder where a stream of water trickles down into a small pool. Nearby are objects sacred to her: a candle, a picture, and a few small shells.

“There must be a way to devise something like that in the corner of my bedroom,” I thought. Then I pondered finding a boulder and moving it, then creating a waterfall that would not spill water all over the rug, flood the entire first floor before it streamed out the door and into the yard. Well, it was a nice thought.

I tried body massages, long walks with Mother Nature, biking beneath sunshine and clouds of all seasons, quilting in a well-lit corner of my homey living room, kayaking alone on a still, tree-surrounded lake, the trees beautifully reflected in clear glistening water. I’d been in sacred church sanctuaries of many denominations and listened to stunning symphonies. All had refreshed and restored me, yet most were places where I needed to travel.

Then, quite unexpectedly, my quiet place came to me in the midst of my catastrophic fifties. I sat on a hard chair, one of a therapeutic circle of women. The facilitator placed a yards- long piece of soft fabric across all our laps.

I knit my eyebrows in puzzlement as she softly instructed, “Now place both hands, palm down, over the fabric and loosely grasp it.”

We did.

“Close your eyes,” she said.

With my eyes closed, I noticed the gentleness of her voice. “Now take a few deep breaths and then think only about the feel of the fabric you are holding.”

A shallow breather all my life, I always welcomed a reminder to breathe deeply. Within seconds of following her instructions, I began to experience a change within I’d never known before. My body’s constant internal churning began to subside and a new peacefulness, ever so slowly, flowed throughout my body.

I felt my forehead broaden as tension melted away over my eyes. My mouth softened and felt like it spread into a small smile. My head slowly drooped as my neck muscles relaxed, my shoulders dropped, my chest lightened, my abdomen relaxed, and my legs felt so loose I wasn’t sure they could support me if I stood up.

I had just had my first meditation experience. I’d discovered a peace-filled place I had with me always, within myself.


About Mary Jo Doig

Mary Jo Doig was the first in her family to attend college and graduated from the State University at Oneonta in New York’s Catskill Mountains with a degree in Secondary English Education/Educational Psychology. There she fell in love with rural life, remained, and eventually transitioned from city girl to country woman when she married a dairy farmer and raised their three children on their small family farm. A life-long lover of reading and writing, Mary Jo has for nearly twenty years been a member of the Story Circle Network. There she has been an editor, a women’s writing circle facilitator, a book reviewer, and life-writing enthusiast, working extensively with women writing their life-stories while writing her own memoir. Presently, she is a three-time Program Chair for SCNs national Stories from the Heart conference and a board member. She also facilitates Older Women’s Legacy workshops and a women’s life-writing circle in her area communities. Her stories have appeared in Kitchen Table Stories anthology, Story Circle Annual Anthologies, and most recently her story “I Can’t Breathe” was published in the Anthology, Inside and Out: Women’s Truths, Women’s Stories. Her work also appears in varied blogs and periodicals, on her blog Musings from a Patchwork Quilt Life (https://maryjod.wordpress.com), Facebook, and Twitter. Her son and two daughters grown, Mary Jo presently treasures her country life in Virginia’s Central Shenandoah Valley. She loves cooking (and eating!) healthy food, reading, writing, quilting, hiking, and spending quality time with her rescue cats, Button and Xena, and beagle, Addie, who each dream of being only children. Her first book, Patchwork: A Memoir of Love and Loss, will be published in October, 2018 by She Writes Press.
This entry was posted in Change, Mystery, Peacefulness. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A Peaceful Place

  1. Linda Hoye says:

    How beautiful, Mary Jo. I’m so happy you found that place of peace. I’ve always had a sense of serenity when I’m around you–you carry it well, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful, Mary Jo. Beautifully written, sincerely felt. A great lesson for us all. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jan Golden says:

    Beautifully said, you could have been describing me.


  4. This is so beautifully presented! I love the image, which took me into meditative state before I began reading (I just sat here staring at the purple scarf sensing how it would feel between my fingers … I dunno, maybe two minutes?) and after reading I went back to the image with an even deeper appreciation. Thank you so much. You’ve given my day a truly good kick-start.


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