We bring a gentle, loving awareness to this body. We treat it softly, and with respect. It knows; our body feels respected.
One little peek at my phone yesterday and bam, my screen screamed out: “Trump freaks out after the Midterms and ousts Sessions.”
I think we are all freaking out just a little too much, folks.
On my first 10 day silent retreat, after days of restlessness and frustration, Jack Kornfield gave a very simple instruction, and something clicked. It went something like this:
Take your seat in your human incarnation just as you are right now; you are already fulfilled, as you value that, you value yourself.
It took several more days of struggle and agony for this truth bomb to detonate. Not a flashing or burning explosion, more like a silent, instant decimation of all attempts to resist the present moment.
We just take our seat in the midst of everything as it is.
And discover the stranger that sleeps, eats and wakes up with us.
Check in with yourself
When we start our meditation session, we check in with ourselves, with the bare sensations of sitting on a chair or a cushion.
We bring a gentle, loving awareness to this body. We treat it softly, and with respect. It knows; our body feels respected. We bring loving mindful awareness to the body just as it is; we love ourselves in a deeply healing way.
The body responds with delight! The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano:
The church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta.
We can verify that yes, the body wants our attention and delights in our respect. See what happens when we softly leaning into what is difficult and simply be with feelings without trying to change them.
Everything becomes workable
But we can’t make any of this happen. We just let it happen by itself. Remember Suzuki Roshi’s key point:
The goal of meditation is to keep a beginner’s mind.
And then to simply continue being mindful, moment after moment. When we notice we have lost contact with the present, no problem, we just begin again, as Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us:
The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.
ugh, the news!
Still, we have to deal with all the anger, stress and fear that radiates from the news. I side with the muted optimism James Baldwin conveys when he wrote:
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
And if we are so blind and numb we don’t realize we are in pain, and starts to poke through a little, just blame it on the “invading migrant caravans” infested with M13 gang members.
Jack Kornfield reflects:
There is a fundamental nobility and dignity to all human beings. In your own way, your practice is to find this nobility and freedom in yourself, and honor it in others.
Imagine our world if we could all just sit down for a few minutes, in silence, and just breathe together?
Maybe we can tolerate ourselves a little better; maybe even tolerate each other!
As we learn to meditate, we re-claim more and more of our own “fundamental nobility.” Dignity, courage, respect, are on tap, 24/7.