Today was a day of contrasts, and this recent computer painting sums it up – the grieving heart surrounded by the energy of the new, the authentic, and the real. Where ‘real’ stands for anything I believe in, including the beautiful dreamer, and her right to lose herself in visions in her own sacred time and place.
We started the morning with a meditation class in the company of a few, but treasured souls. Although my body tends to be unforgiving and the seated pose sometimes causes great pain, I’m learning better to be with the pain and observe it. For a while, I even shared an ancestral memory of sitting with the Buddha under the bodhi tree, and had a glimpse of the enlightenment he experienced. I know this enlightenment is everyone’s birthright, and I feel patient waiting for it to burst open within my soul.
I continue to find interactions with certain people in my life confounding, and while this causes some of the hurt at my core, I find it easier to feel compassion – for those who have unwittingly disappointed me – and for myself and the feelings of hurt. I learn to observe them and let them go. It’s not easy, and it takes repeated practice, but I realize that as my expectations and needs of others lead to disappointment, so too, do I unwittingly disappoint others.
This world encourages, as Kabat-Zinn’s book title suggested “Full Catastrophe Living”. We rush around, losing our sense of connection and community in the “monkey mind” sphere of to-do lists, achievements, comparisons, and inevitable failures. Meditation gives one the courage to slow down, to blur that riot of activity into something more comprehensible, where we see that much of our own suffering is a result of western living.
When I think on some of my greatest times of suffering in life, those sufferings were often compounded as a result of rushing. That time in 1996 when I fell and broke my arm, shortly after my divorce and the death of my father come to mind. I was rushing for a train, and tripped on the most imperceptible rise in the cracks between the pavement. How much extra suffering would we save ourselves if we slowed down a little?
That’s not to say that vigorous action is bad. There are times when quick action can save others and save ourselves. However, there are times when moving slowly, pausing to observe and honour our feelings with compassion is preferable to pushing those feelings down and letting them erode us from the inside. It takes time and faith to heal, and courage to forgive.
Take time to slow down, to forgive others, and most importantly, forgive yourself first.