The clear crystal of the blue crisp morning was disturbed only by my moving legs. Faster faster. I was late. Or almost. As usual. Everything pretty much went according to plan so I arrived at the intersection of 20th and Walnut street with only a minute available. And then the morning turned itself over as I lay hitting hard on my back at the edge of the intersection. My bag midair and landing. My bike somehow both on top of and below me. I am staring at this man talking on his cell phone who moves not one iota. Not one. I pick myself up in good form cursing up a storm. Theses damn humans etc, etc…blah blah blah cell phone, f-ing, blah blah. Still cursing I get back on my bike ride access the intersection and manage to wind up staring at the sky on my back once again. And no he has not moved. The cursing gets louder. A gentleman in scrubs approaches, I’m assuming at his own risk, which seems to make the act even more kind. Because I am in a fury this morning. Muttering muttering. He gently hands me my bag. I smile, somewhat, thanking him. I decide not to get back on my bike and walk it carefully towards the Shambhala center for my third day of retreat. I realize he is walking in the same direction and that may be his destination as well. Of course he is going to my center for meditation, of course.
Lucky for me he does not. I arrive somewhat injured but walking. Still muttering I realize I am on breakfast duty. I ask multiple people for help but nobody can. Of course I am estimating a gargantuan amount of dishes. Mutter, mutter, mutter. Suddenly one of my retreat members appears. She speaks softly to me as I do the dishes. She carries them in and I wash. As she speaks and I respond, I feel the tension sliding off of me. I realize I have finally accepted my morning. I laugh as I listen to her. We leave the kitchen twinkling, everything in its place, I prepare to sit.
I take my seat. Every color in the room is emitting clear and crisp lines. Each breath entering and leaving me. And I realize I am finally awake. I have “slept” most of this retreat and now I am awake. Grateful I lower my gaze and be.
To me this story is about openness. Being open to experience, open to waking up at any opportunity, open to yourself through kindness so that you may self examine and being grateful that you at any point have the awareness to do or even contemplate any of this. I was so grateful to be awake for the rest of the retreat and that I could, which I mightn’t have been able to prior to practicing Mindfulness, even be grateful for the wipe outs, man in scrubs, my kind fellow retreater and perhaps the most, to the cell phone man.
There was a gentleman in a group I was a part of who mentioned he experienced a moment of being present. That he is grateful for the days when he is pulling himself back into the present repeatedly because he realizes that those are days he is present more often. We discussed that being gentle with ourselves is imperative for awareness. When we are hard on ourselves we tend to get lost in that harshness and the behavior continues and continues and ultimately strengthens. When we are gentle we are able to see. Have space to accept and change.
There is a counterintuitive quality to inviting in what you truly want to get rid of. That acceptance however, allows the behavior or feeling to dissipate or at least allows you to exist with it without as much suffering. As an example of this one of our group members shared that she was experiencing quite a bit of pain due to a slipped disc in her back. She had been to multiple doctors and had decided, as an experiment, to accept the pain and to see what the acceptance brought.
Another member at this point asked about the relationship between avoidance, letting go and neglect. She mentioned that she had a problem with a toe that she ignored for quite a while and that it only got worse. Another member addressed this by differentiating between the quality of letting go and neglect. It is important to care for ourselves. Letting go does not mean not addressing an issue be it medical, emotional or any other kind. It means accepting that the issue is occurring. Doing your best to address it but not resisting it. “Oh why is this happening to me?” Etc. What we are actually letting go of is the resistance we are having to whatever we are experiencing. Essentially the resistance to reality.
This is about openness and kindness and learning to be grateful to the messengers that bring wisdom in sometimes painful forms. Being thankful for our wipe outs, verbal diarrhea, heartbreak, beautiful days and falling in love. But most of all for our ability to have an awareness of this all. These are our gifts. Our cake so to speak that we offer to others as a representation of our gratefulness. And I am so grateful to all of you. Have a beautiful week while gently noticing your neurosis, practicing acceptance, welcoming the difficulties in your life (again and again, old friends.) and offering your thankfulness for these experiences that provides your learning: your own embodiment of wisdom and the wisdom embodied in our full experience of life.
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