“The moment that we realize our attention has wandered is the magic moment of the practice, because that’s the moment we have the chance to be really different. Instead of judging ourselves, and berating ourselves, and condemning ourselves, we can be gentle with ourselves.”
-Sharon Salzberg From “Real Happiness”
It’s been a long while since my last post. The first year of being with the 3 (maybe 4) stooges in my neck was a whirlwind of getting the process of being on watchful waiting/ active surveillance set up. These gremlins are indolent and rare so too will be the approach I guess.
I’d like to say I’ve been graceful, but it’s been tough having an “invisible” problem that after a while, other folks forget even exist.
What I have found however, is a whole new level of vulnerability in myself. It’s been risky (and new) being more open and honest about my situation. There is always a possibility of mistake, loss, and of disconnection, but even with the mis-cues, I’ve found that it wasn’t the end of the world. In retrospect, I noticed at times in this more mindful year, a kind of courage in myself and sense of refuge that before I had never noticed.
In the midst of the chaos and discomfort, I’ve felt glimmers of calm and steadfastness by examining the space around the contraction and identification with all that I notice as between me and feeling free.
Even when I thought I had forgotten that spaciousness…that infinite compassion and grace, when I least expected it, something eventually and unexpectedly inside me remembered.
I had a moment the other day that gave me pause. I was invited to go to the Chinese New Years festival with my close friends and their kids. Their 4 year old has become super comfortable with me (I’m ‘auntie’ at this point) and he was running around a seating area where we were resting. He started saying to me “catch me, catch me” as he ran around. I’d catch him and he’d give me a super tight hug each time I’d catch him.
In that moment the things that seemed overwhelming and contracted seemed to give way to some spaciousness around it. There is something really interesting when I take the time to pause and check in on those moments of genuine care and affection. The ‘loving friendliness’
I show him and the genuine reception that I feel from the kind projects a certain reflective response…where I feel myself giving that metta, the child receiving it, and giving it back.
I think the real value of the ‘body centered inquiry’ / focusing and sitting (no matter how restless it may be) is how the body does remember to check in and take in those moments usually passed off.
It’s the ‘popcorn effect’ of sorts, where one notices the reflex of checking in and of taking in the good without the ‘effort’ of forcing or manufacturing that emotional and bodily memory. One cannot let go by grasping at letting go.
Those good moments, those moments of feeling connected and part of something more expansive is so important during these days where contraction and uncertainty makes it hard to breath and keep perspective.
The core of the practice, I think, is really just remembering and starting again.