We seem to be emotionally reactive around things like anger, shame, jealousy and envy- it’s like they happen to us. The truth is we choose these reactions, and with practice and insight we can make entirely different choices when circumstances arise.
I just sat through a few days of acute illness. Call it a cold or flu–runny nose, achy muscles, fatigue, sore throat. It came on slowly, by Wednesday morning at the gym, I realized I wasn’t feeling well. The problem was that I had a full schedule that day and the next. It’s amazing how we can push through. By Friday, I really needed to sit–well, to lie down. So I started moving slowly and noticing my body. Blowing my nose, achy, tired. What should I do?
Take a seat over there on the cushion!
Yep, not what you think of when your down with the flu, but for me, sitting on my meditation cushion and attending to my breath really makes a difference. In many ways, it was the start of my healing. By Saturday, I was on the mend. I still have leftover symptoms today on Monday, but I was back at the gym this morning, and I didn’t miss much of my daily routine of sitting and quieting my mind.
Well meditation is not for me.
It’s interesting how many people just really don’t like meditation, or rather, they are board with sitting still. It’s true, not much happens. The work is in settling the mind, relaxing the breath, slowing respiration. Noticing the tempo and tone of thoughts and gently reminding yourself to let go and to be still.
“Not Knowing,” empty intelligence, shunyata is the core of who you are, the great silent depth out of which the truth of your being arises and flow.
– Junpo Roshi
Who am I when I’m not thinking? How am I different from my body and my symptoms? What do I notice about me, when I let my bodily sensations and my thoughts arise without judgement? Without having to do anything? Seldom (unless you practice meditation) do we simple experience our bodies expression of our dis-ease. We reach for pills and potions and take things in an effort to move us back to our ‘normal’ being.
But when my body is expressing symptoms of illness is this not still me? How is this state of me related to the core being of who I am? In this instance, it wasn’t until I sat through a long period Friday evening that it occurred to me that a week earlier I had completed a one-day retreat in which I spent the day by myself from sunrise to sunset at a local park, with no contact with anyone for 12 hours. This process of completion of old cycles and honoring the past left me exhausted by that evening. I didn’t connect this even with the symptoms that came on a few days later. Perhaps they were related?
In most cases, pain is psychological. Sometimes it is physiological. If you just give everything up, let the body relax, and be perfectly present, you can go right through the pain. You don’t surrender to it; you look right into it.
There was pain I walked with on my retreat. Pain of failures, misdeeds, regrets, and shame. Not every moment of life can be met skillfully. My body responded as I became aware of the depths of my longing. By Wednesday, my systems were turbulent with change and discharge. What needed to be done?
To sit and be fully present, to be still and to release myself, to connect fully to the simplicity of a quiet mind. To not knowing and Pure Awareness. It is here that healing takes place and for me, it was the medicine I needed. It may seem challenging and far off, but it’s really right here with you all the time.
If you don’t like the story of your life, maybe it’s time to fire your scriptwriter