I wake up with throbbing sensations in each temple, feeling as if the walls are quickly closing in.
I wake up with belly muscles repeating somersaults as if they are training for a future Olympic event.
After all, I must be in tip top shape to perform.
Exploring these sensations from the inside out, I notice the mind trying to make sense of them.
What did I have for dinner last night? Maybe the cauliflower is causing too much gas.
Did I get enough sleep? Maybe I shouldn’t wake up so early to meditate.
Maybe I’m worried about future this or that.
Each time my attention wanders away from the body and breath, I gently note where I’ve been and try my best to return with kind awareness and warm curiosity. After all, it’s hard to stay present when I still believe there is some other person or place that will promise eternal peace!
Thank you, Kaveri for your patience. That’s why it’s called a practice, a path.
A spiritual path implies there is some place to get to, a final destination where you can rest because your debts are paid off, you’ve recovered fully from a devastating illness, you are finally vacationing in your dream place, or fill in the blank. You are always on the move, avoiding paths that are unpleasant, carefully choosing routes that produce pleasure time and time again.
What happens when you take off the heavy backpack of burden and lay it down beside you? What happens as you stop to rest, to take a refreshing drink of water, to eat and fully engage your five senses with your surroundings? What if you could feel the sun’s warmth mixed with cool sensations of a gentle breeze on your skin and on the inside? What if you could appreciate a panoramic view of your whole life and relax into the present moment of your timeline?
Every answer you seek can be found in the foreign tongues of body sensations. They are lost in translation when you try and think your way through the moment, when you try to rush towards a pleasurable answer and push away the painful ones. The process of returning to the present moment, resting and relaxing into it, and reflecting on insights as they arise is not an easy one. How can it be when you are taught to strive, to become someone and achieve something worthy of attention, of love?
There is a certain sweetness in surrendering to the physical manifestations of thoughts and emotions rather than trusting the constant hum inside your head of possible disasters lurking just around the corner. The only way to know this (not as a cognitive assignment, but as a marrow felt sense), is to practice again and again. Not practicing for an external trophy, but for internal freedom and more space to love what is.
My wish for you, for me, for everyone on this planet is that we can periodically rest in these moments of awareness. We don’t need to be anyone or do anything to experience deep and profound states of peace. My wish is that we all have opportunities to slow down, to let the mind settle long enough so we can sense the aura of our True Nature, the same aura surrounding Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, and all sentient beings we have revered throughout space and time in every mystical tradition.
May we relax into any given moment.
May we have patience for the answers that lead us to wise action.
When we fall, may we trust Indra’s net to catch us.
Sweet Surrender – Song Meditation
(When you hear this song, imagine that you are not surrendering to any one person, place, or thing but to this moment and a loving awareness guiding you, always. If the song distracts you from your soul’s deepest longing, then let it go.)
(This blog post was inspired by a recent retreat with Dori Langevin and a series of talks on The Third Noble Truth and Nibbana by Tempel Smith.)