In this challenging month I realized that the nature outdoors is a part of our own true nature. Even though I felt at times as though I was separated from it, each time I returned to my cushion I was connecting to that true nature, and tuning into the flow of the universe. The more I sat, the more I took joy in our little walks around the block, or jumping in the smallest puddle on our driveway.
Coming back into our bodies is the medicine. That of course is the real direction of meditation, when it’s working the way it’s supposed to. We notice what’s really going on, notice the habit pattern that wants to take over, notice our urgency or our anxiety, our frozen-ness or our outrage. We notice and we float – for just a moment – above this behavior that wants so badly to repeat itself, to stay unconscious, to stay automatic.
And then, as time resumes, we exercise our dignity and our freedom by deliberately choosing whether we want to keep that particular response going. Not a glamorous practice, but a necessary one.
Where’s the rest? Real rest – deep rest – is there in every moment.
It is at times of challenge, like the viruses tumbling through our blood, that we find out how capable we are. Hoarding things for ourselves will make us sick. Sharing the best of what we have makes us well, even in the face of illness. That is what will turn this around.
By Oliver Rabba
Mindfulness meditation practices can offer us a way to pause, breathe and momentarily step back from our problems. This is often exactly what’s needed to get the “creative juices” flowing and allow new, unseen solutions to come forward. A window may appear where there was once only a wall.
Fittingly, we start this year at CEC exploring concentration. Concentration blooms in these conditions of energized commitment. While our resolve is still strong, we’ll practice the discipline of starting, again and again, to notice the present moment. Dedication to this practice illuminates a great gift of concentration: that we have a choice in what we pay attention to. And that our minds can get freer when we exercise that choice.
I think then: this freedom is better. Freedom from freedom. Freedom from myself, freedom from the dizziness of a million choices. Parenting is very clarifying. I know my job: keep Eden and Sarah alive. There’s only one thing to do and it is not about me.
As someone who was born into Christianity but raised in a vehemently anti-religious household I thought, “What do I know about devotion?” Then when I turned to the internet for a little research and found mostly the words of preachers, I got scared. “Oh god” (can I even say that???), I am in very uncomfortable territory. How can I make peace with this word, that for me and probably many others, had such religious baggage?
It doesn’t take much time on the cushion to figure out that there is nothing passive about meditation. Knowing the present moment, and ourselves, is full of effort. It’s hard work to recognize and acknowledge the realities we’re faced with, to see them clearly and sit with the discomfort they bring. But this clear-eyed acceptance is the groundwork for meaningful change. Its opposite is denial; that’s what keeps us stuck.
This is exactly how it is supposed to be, always was. All the forces of the universe, the same ones hammering stars into stars into stars, every chemical collision and thought pattern has made it come true, and there’s nowhere else to be, no other place worth trusting except this one. What matters most is not what was lost or what might have been, but what I’m losing wishing the story in front of me away.