The wind was never the freedom you were seeking. It swept and curled around your stagnant body. It felt alive, like it would lift you away into its vast lightness. And then it died, but you kept looking. The air was dead, you began to die. The searching continued. The suffering surmounted. You cried and longed, for the air to breath life into you once again. "But don't you see?", she whispered. A kiss of wind licked your ear. All senses attuned, ready to listen. The wind is not the freedom, it's a gift. The freedom lies, in the silence after the wind blows by. The wind entices and excites, but she cannot be contained. Try to capture her, and you will be lost in her endless waves. Lost to seeking. Lost to searching. Lost to future, beckoning for past. The wind, she is transient. A gift that ebbs and flows. But try to bottle her, and you will always chase the suffering. To chase the wind is futile. She's quick and whirls haphazard. Accept the peace and calm in silence, And you will surely feel the wind blowing once again.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28
At the center of the labyrinth, I paused. In that moment of silence the Light, the Energy Source, the God Almighty, spoke this verse to me.
The presence and power of this truth coursed deeply through my body. I swelled with relief and tears came to rest on the rim of my eyes.
At any time, the Light is within us. Turn into the Heart Center when you need rest and the vortex of light and energy will pull you in and you will be restored.
Meditate, be still, and know that I am God.
I re-entered the world (the human world) after my long meditative walk this morning with more vigor and enthusiasm than I ever have.
I did so with a full awareness and understanding that the peaceful states I enter during my walks are not something I need to hold on to with a death grip. No, the peace exists already, and always, at the core of my being and as sure as day follows night, it will return. To everything there is a season.
I have, in the past, attempted to maintain those states of bliss, post walk, only to find myself consumed by the thought of them as well as the guilt of not being able to make myself remain there.
An ounce of truth and knowledge awoke within me this morning. The even state of acceptance is where peace resides. Even in the mediocre and mundane routines I must perform, the peace is there. A bright awareness is there.
Joy and ecstasy are extreme states of being and every so often I experience them. And they feel so damn good I want them to stay. But once I enter into the realm of trying (to keep), exhaustion and weariness set in.
Fear and anger and loneliness are also extreme states of being, yet at the other end of the spectrum. And they feel so damn awful and I want them to go away. But again, once I enter into the realm of trying (to stop), exhaustion and weariness set in.
Acceptance and awareness of the equal and opposing forces of life will eventually place me, without effort, on the fulcrum of peace and balance.
Ever seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane? Remember the scene near the beginning of the movie when, after her divorce is finalized she moves into a small apartment and, once all alone, she just collapses on the floor?
Yup, that’s me. That’s me just about every other day. The change happening in my life right now is so enormous that all I seem to have the energy for is one day – and then I lose my stride, collapse, and start over.
It’s in those moments of collapse though that I need to remain hyper-vigilant. Those are where the seeds of change lie.
I can feel the exhaustion set in. I’m a pusher, a doer. I tend not to allow the feeling of tiredness but I cannot help but surrender to it now. It’s so strong.
Oh, but when those moments come, they are powerful. It’s almost like I can feel the blood thicken and slow. The grip of weariness takes hold and I simply cannot force a faster pace.
But it also takes work to settle into and accept the fatigue.
Late this afternoon, the all-consuming wave of exhaustion washed over me. I wanted to stay late at work tonight but I couldn’t. I left on time, went home, and lay on the couch. I searched for rest for my weary body. It didn’t come. I got up and ate dinner – without energy to make it and feeling like I was starving for “something”, two bowls of cereal was the sup of choice – or more, the sup of necessity. I still felt lost and tired. I made my lunch and did some cleaning. The rest wasn’t coming. Maybe I should do some yoga. No, I needed to get out. So I put on a somewhat presentable ensemble of shorts and sweatshirt and headed out for a walk. It helps. The white noise of the world usually is enough to find distance from my whirling mind and observe the thoughts without too much judgement. The start of the walk though was not a joy ride. They never are. That’s when all the thoughts and questions arise. And when I have no answers to any of them, I simply keep asking, “Why?” Over, and over, and over again. Why? Why? Why? Why? And, I also continue to ask the question that Atreya Thomas, blog author of Revealing the Absolute, invites us to ask, “Who am I in spite of this thought?”
Of course, no answers ever come. Nothing concrete anyway. But often more important questions arise which help to pull me out of the self-focused, downward spiral. Tonight, the question to the other questions, “If others are hurting than why does my need matter?” And it doesn’t really.
I can’t negate my feelings. My unmet needs and hurt feelings are real and raw – and they hurt. But they become less important when I become more aware of whatever is outside myself. The purpose of my life, I’m not sure what it is, but I do know that when I am focused on self-fulfillment – jobs, wealth, hobbies, notoriety, you name it – I lack peace.
There are so many things I am changing in my life right now – relationships, diet, physical body, spiritual body – and change is happening but it’s slow. And it’s exhausting. And when it’s slow and exhausting I start to question all the things I’m doing. Why am I doing this? What’s the point? I’m lonelier now – why put myself through all this shit? If I go back, will it be enough?
And lo and behold – there it is. If I go back, it won’t be enough. I can’t ignore the disgrace of an ignorant life, my ignorant life.
So, I continue to embrace the exhaustion and slow collapse of my old life with a (now) renewed focus. Eventually the demolition will slow and new earth will start to see the light and I can start to bloom in truth. Slowly. Slowly it will come.
Right now, the connection feels haphazard and awkward but with diligent effort higher energy will be the norm. Not the constant, not ever. But more oft than not.
In my never-ending quest to find myself I feel sometimes like I just end up walking further away.
I’m trying to understand meditation and I know I don’t fully grasp it because I’m not entering any other dimension of myself – I only seem to be doing more thinking. I’m trying to will myself into a state of peace but, nope, that’s not meditation. Don’t get me wrong – an inner calm and peace, I believe, are side effects of meditation, but that’s not something you can will. Again, I go back to Being. This is what it’s about – it’s NOT about trying – yet that’s all I seem to do. Dammit – why do I have to be such a determined and willful person?
Meditation is a process through which one becomes aware. And it is in this awareness – full and open awareness – where the peace and knowledge of self resides.
But how do I get there?
It suddenly became a little bit clearer to me the other night when reading Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. In it, it states:
Meditation consists of two simultaneous processes: One is insight – paying attention to what is arising. The other is surrender – letting go of attachment to arising thoughts. This is how you cut free of the mind.
I think I’ve been stuck on step one and not fully understanding step two. I’m pretty good at paying attention to arising thoughts and feelings. But once they come, I’m not surrendering to them. I’ve been shutting them off. I shut them off because I don’t believe they should be there. All the mess and commotion and unhappiness – those aren’t peaceful, meditative thoughts! So that’s when I start trying. I start trying to turn the bad stuff off and begin trying to will myself into peace and light.
What a fool I’ve been!
I know. I inherently know all that I need to know. But I haven’t been surrendering to what I am trying to tell myself. I’ve stopped listening.
I liken my inner voice/inner self to the tiniest of ants on the ground. It’s so small and far away that most times I don’t even see it standing at my feet. But it’s down there, jumping up and down, trying to get my attention. It’s screaming at full throttle but it’s too small, too far away, I continue to ignore it.
But then all of a sudden I start paying attention. I am aware of the ant. I still can’t hear it – but I see it. Yet at least I am aware. Then I notice the little ant talking – it’s trying to tell me something. Its voice is too small, I don’t know what it’s saying. And here’s where step two of the meditation process comes into play – rather than ignoring it because I can’t hear, I surrender to this tiny ant. I get down on my hands and knees and push my head as far down toward the ant as I can get it. Its tiny voice is still almost inaudible but I hear murmurings. And now I know I have to stay – stay still and stay quiet until my ears adjust and are able to hear.
I haven’t been hearing much these days. But now I know that when I become aware of something, rather than trying to fight it off, I need to stay still and surrender to it. Eventually I will come to hear and understand.
I’ve never been alone, truly alone. I lived with my parents in a hostile environment for the first 20 years of my life. I then lived almost the next 20 years in a co-dependent relationship. Now, I am on my own.
After the initial shock and commotion of leaving a 20 year relationship, reality has settled in, little by little. There’s way more to come, this I know. But the little bit of reality of life alone has started to settle in.
I’m not scared. I’m not even lonely. It’s just very, very different.
Every decision I have ever made in my life, up until this point, has been a joint decision – from what I eat, to what I wear, to where I bank, to which doctor I go to. EVERYTHING in my life has been decided on with the help (or pressure) of someone else.
It’s very, very strange now – and quite liberating – to know that every decision I make is now one I make on my own. One that I live with – good or bad. And one that I, and only I, can change if I want to.
This stems from an incident yesterday. I started having excruciating stomach pains yesterday morning around 8:00 a.m. As the morning progressed, the pain got worse and started to radiate up into my chest and upper back.
I had no husband to call who would either tell me I was being ridiculous or that he would meet me at the hospital. I could have reached out to others – my sister, my mom, a friend – but, for whatever reason, I felt like I needed to deal with this on my own.
By noon the pain was so bad that, streaming tears, I left work early and drove myself to the hospital.
The hospital is a lonely place to be on your own. It’s cold and sterile. But I knew that was the best place for me. And I endured it all – the questions, explanations, poking, prodding, pressing – all on my own.
I didn’t feel the need to convince the companion beside me that the pain was as bad as I claimed. I didn’t feel the need to console someone for having to wait the countless hours in boredom beside me. I didn’t feel the need to encourage the helper. I was the help-ee this time and I was just letting myself be helped. I didn’t feel the need to do anything but make sure I was taking care of myself.
It was lonely and liberating all at the same time.
I received morphine for the first time in my life and got to share that with numerous people in my contact list. Moooorrrrreeephinnnnneeeeee!!!!!! Lots of folks got that lovely text from me. I also got to share the experience in silence with one of the nurses aides when he saw me grinning with my eyes rolling aimlessly around inside my head.
It was lonely, yet I was not alone. I was with myself. At the end of the day, at the end of it all, I am alone – yet never alone. We are all human – all made up of millions of cells – vibrating through life together. We, as individuals, own nothing – my mother, my sister, my friend. They are not mine.
No, we are not alone. We are all one.
I’m human. Really human. And so, I’m easily distracted. I’m starting to use my distraction now though instead of it using me. It’s becoming my “weight” that I’m using to strengthen my core. And I’m not talking about my abs. No, I’m talking about my core Being.
What I’m starting to understand is that being present isn’t about being blissfully happy and peaceful 24/7. Well, let me re-phrase – being present isn’t about making myself be blissfully happy and peaceful 24/7.
Therein lies my foundational problem. I’m trying too hard. And in all my effort to find this happiness and peace, I’ve been missing it entirely.
In trying to be present I’ve been, in stark opposition, practicing mindlessness. I’ve been attempting to reach a future state of Being – but anything that has yet to be is anything but presence.
I started to bear witness to my ignorance yesterday. My morning cup of Eckhart taught me that there are three modalities of awakened doing:
I focus on the first one for now because that is what is resonating with me. Eckhart says about Acceptance:
Whatever you cannot enjoy doing, you can at least accept that it is what you have to do. Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly…Performing an act in the state of acceptance means you are at peace while you do it. That peace is a subtle energy vibration which then flows into what you do.
I realize I have not been very accepting of very much in my world:
- When sitting at work doing repetitive, boring tasks my mind wanders and I start to look for the distraction. I search the Internet for something interesting, I go talk to someone, I reach for the Blackberry. Total avoidance!
- When driving home in traffic, I turn on the music, I watch other people. I start to fall into self and judgement. Why can’t this guy drive? What will I eat for dinner? What am I going to do tonight?
- What am I going to do tonight? (this thought carries on from the previous one) I guess I’ll eat dinner and have a glass of wine. I’ll watch TV. I’ll clean a bit and then maybe I’ll go for a walk. Everything is focused on future events yet when I get to that time – that time to eat, to watch, to walk – I’m already a million steps ahead of it – and so, I may perform the acts but I’m lost in yonder and never enjoying the state of present Being.
Everything is sheer distraction!
Yesterday, I made a concerted effort to focus. And, lo and behold, things started to fall into place. I had hundreds of contracts at work I had to get through and I went through each one as though it was the first one I was seeing. And that was the whole jist of my day. When I started to look forward I brought myself back and I truly found that acceptance of the now was more peaceful than the hope of the unknown future.
Now that I know what my weight load is, I can make use of it to strengthen my core.