How can I trust this process of awakening
When the world expects perfection
When we all begin this race together
But there is only one gold medal
For the one who finishes first
And a badge of shame
For the one who finishes last?
I want to step out of this rat race
Trust this heart to hold it all
The belly to digest, compost, create
A poem like this to remind me
The path to enlightenment
Was never a path but begins
With one point in time
Where the choice to leave or stay
Is the choice that matters most
Training for a marathon. Graduating college. Mastering a skill. These are all worthwhile goals. Goals require patience, endurance, resilience (and many more things I haven’t mentioned here). Goals are great to have. They help us evaluate where we have been, where we currently are, and where we are headed. We can change our trajectory, making any necessary adjustments along the way.
But what about the path to enlightenment, to peace, to freedom? What do we need for this journey? How long will it take? Do we have the right guides, the right job, the perfect family and friends to support our path?
For years, I was treating meditation practice as if it were a long, arduous path. I must sit a certain number of minutes each day. I must do certain things to finish first. I can only share mindfulness stories of transcendence and mastery, not ones where I’m hopelessly lost with amnesia. There’s no space for weakness, messy emotions, rest and reflection. I must get there in the shortest amount of time possible. I must strive for Olympic gold.
During a mindful mom’s yoga class, the bubble of quiet serenity I craved was quickly pierced by a wailing infant. Irritated by this uninvited interruption, I wasn’t exactly oozing with compassion and understanding for the mother or Mr. Colic. After noticing the irritation, I noticed the judgmental voice.
Kaveri, what the hell is wrong with you? Why do I have to keep reminding you who you are? You are a family physician, a mindfulness teacher, a writer. Hello! Have you completely forgotten you are also a mom, a mom in a MINDFUL MOMS YOGA CLASS?!?!
At the rate you’re going, you’ll never reach enlightenment. Forget gold, silver, even bronze. You might qualify for tin.
For some reason, I remembered part of a class curriculum I was going teach in a few days. It encouraged me to start exactly where I was. If anger arises, then start there. If fear arises, then start there, etc. So, I decided to get curious about the irritation. I noticed the tension in my jaw, my body recoiling from the infant’s cries, my heart closing to protect something.
What was I trying to protect?
One of my greatest fears is that I will lose something precious I have found in meditation practice. But that something is not a particular identity. Meditation hasn’t created a new and improved Kaveri. It has simply stripped away all layers of bullshit – the false promises of perfection, the illusion of a utopia accessible to a select few who work hard enough to get there, the ignorance of mistaken identities.
The path to enlightenment was never a path, but one point in time, a moment, this moment. In class, I was given the choice to leave myself, my true emotions in favor of a self that was more respected and in line with my prized identities. When I chose to stay with the raw feelings without giftwrapping them for anyone, I noticed a small smile on my lips and inside my heart. Mr. Colic wasn’t Mr. Colic at all, but an avatar of Siddhartha himself, speaking to me through his high-pitched cries.
Siddhartha, I choose to stay. I choose to stay with the whimpers, the whirling emotions, the wisdom that emerges when all identities are cast aside. I choose to stay with Loving Presence as my true nature and connect with the true nature in All.
What if this is my only goal?