The cozy configuration of our family nest during the pandemic is about to change. The news of my in laws coming soon to stay with us for a significant length of time rattles the bones, leaves the nervous system unsettled.
It’s tempting to spiritually bypass what’s here, to suppress thoughts, feelings and sensations that aren’t congruent with my partner or rebel against cultural tradition. It’s also easy to blame others for misunderstanding my need for space and silence.
The Practice is asking for ease, curiosity, patient benevolence, a reliance on certain support systems, and remembrance of beauty, joy, hidden gifts.
Sitting in meditation each day is like relaxing back into my favorite chair or cushion, leaning the weight of my body and worries against a giant redwood tree that knows how to root and endure. The breath makes its loyal sweep from head thoughts to heart feelings to gut sensations, gathering them all in its tender embrace, unifying the pieces into one collective, sacred experience.
From this grounded place, questions about perception are asked without expectation of an exact or perfect answer. What’s happening now? Who am I taking myself to be? How am I relating to others? To space? To time?
Once I have attended to my own authentic inner experience in an honest, compassionate way, I can begin to let others in, to get curious and ask about their experience, to sense the multidimensional aspect of relationships and vast space of the Brahmaviharas. Love is not a limited resource trapped inside my own heart. It can flow both ways...towards myself and others.
May I be happy, as well and safe as I can be, peaceful and at ease.
I care about my suffering.
May I know joy.
May I trust in the mysterious unfolding of my life.
May you be happy, as well and safe as you can be, peaceful and at ease.
May you care about your suffering.
May you know joy.
May you trust in the mysterious unfolding of your life.
May we be happy, as well and safe as we can be, peaceful and at ease.
May we care about our suffering.
May we know joy.
May we trust in the mysterious unfolding of our lives.
The term ‘patient’ benevolence helps to remind me that there is no fixed timeline for this process, no need to get anywhere, become anyone too quickly if it doesn’t feel like an embodied experience. Rushing the process can cause more harm.
Reliance on Certain Support Systems
It’s so easy for me to let anxiety and aversion eclipse the whole truth of any given moment. Sometimes I miss sweet family connections, opportunities for beauty and joy.
When this happens, the skillful, compassionate, and wise move is to lovingly separate from others so I can connect back with myself to remember. (Sati, the Pali word for mindfulness means ‘to remember’). Through meditation, mindful movement, time in nature, reflection and writing, listening to music and singing, I hear that one clear voice calling out for me to listen. I can also reach out to wise ones who offer safe shelter for the nervous system to settle, the bones to rattle less.
I need to take things one breath, one step at a time, slowing down so the contraction of time does not scatter my attention in multiple directions to dissipate and waste energy.
Remembrance of Beauty, Joy, Hidden Gifts
When there is resistance to unpleasant perception, animal instincts of survival kick in. Can I fight? Can I run away? Can I play dead, sleep, and wake up when it’s safe, when it’s all over?
Is it ever truly all over???
Zen Master Setcho Juken said, “Here in the dragon’s jaws: many exquisite jewels.”
For me, the jewels of practice have shined in so many ways—the width of loving-kindness, the depth of compassion, the length of joy unmeasured by circumstance, the groundless ground of equanimity that does not crack in any mind-heart-body quake, seeing all parts of myself reflected in other beings, other animals, the Earth, and vice versa, everything mentioned and not mentioned in these words, the unborn, the unheard, the unseen.
I am ready to welcome my in-laws, welcome all that arises internally and externally with this shift. I am not the same person I was before. My partner, daughter, mother, and in laws are also not the same. I know it will not be perfect, that I may forget what I have learned, written, practiced and embodied over time.
When this happens, how blessed I feel to return to these words, this heart-mind, these intentions to embody The Practice as best as I can like Kali, Durga, Lakshmi, Kwan Yin, Tara, a Dakini, a redwood, willow, oak tree, all phases of the moon, a lotus (including muddy, tangled rhizome roots, long stem, and budding blossom), the uterine journey from menarche to menopause, the elemental forces of Nature...the Divine Feminine in all her many moods and manifestations!