"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This

"Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said."
-- The Shirelles

"Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. 
One inspires us, the other softens us. 
They go together.”
―  Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living



Although for decades now meditation and mindfulness practice have been the central focus of my spiritual life, over the years I've explored a number of practices from a variety of traditions.  In the early 70's, I chanted Om Mani Padme Hum until I could feel the Grand Hum, practiced other mantra yogas. 

Over the years, I've sung (and danced) bhajan and kirtan with the Hare Krishna's and Neem Koroli Baba's folks, participated in Sufi and Sacred Dance circles.  Over the years I've found a great value in various aphorisms, affirmations and prayers, as well. Yet, for me,  the combination of music and words can sometimes be High Magic.

Although I maintained my daily sitting practice (and continued examining the Lojong slogans) this week, the Universe also brought forth an unexpected, deeply healing, musical incantation.  It emerged not from the Sacred Sounds of an eastern spiritual tradition, but from the first "girl group" to top the Billboard Top 100.  Softy singing in my "mind's ear" this heavenly chorus of young women from New Jersey immediately transformed my state of mind.  I had been pretty funked out at that moment, then, instantaneously, a grin emerged on my mug, the quality of my consciousness became brighter and lighter.  All it took was the Shirelle's simple refrain:


"Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said."

Duh,  Of course.  It's Life as it is. 

The  past week has been a real doozie.  Hurting my lower back 24 hours ahead of what turned 
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out to be a long travel day (four flight delays!) on Friday, I finally arrived back home.  I was ready to proclaim "Honey, I'm home" to my life here.  Stiff and sore, perhaps, but HOME! 

The next day Betsy glanced casually at the back of my left thigh and exclaimed in alarm, "What's THAT!?"

THAT turned out to be a large red splotch with a darker angry looking center.  Not seeing a tick, not feeling any discomfort beyond a bit of itchiness, we proceeded to drive to town to address what was really bothering me: a stiff an sore lower back prone to emitting sharp pains if I moved "incorrectly". Or coughed. Or laughed.  Often, my friendly chiropractor can straighten me out in a single visit.  Not so much this time.  My back still hurt.

By Sunday the blotch had grown dramatically.  Bigger and nastier looking, it proclaimed -- along with an insistent Betsy -- "get thee to the ER!"  Since then, I've been back to the ER a second time because the first antibiotic didn't appear to be working, then had a follow-up with my doctor.  I've seen the chiropractor twice more.

My back still hurts.  The blotch doesn't appear to be very impressed by the collection of three antibiotics yet.  (Doc T had scratched his head and said it's probably a spider bite, not a bacterial thing.  As he recommended I stay on the antibiotics "just in case" and keep an eye on it, I wondered if I should watch as my leg fell off. LOL)

But I digress.

As I sit here with birds twittering across the meadow and through the woods out the window,  I feel quite fine. It's been a gorgeous week back here in the Happy Valley.*  Although my energy has been zapped and there's been some pain and discomfort, for the most it's been pretty easy.  I'm laying back as much as I can, moving slowly when necessary.  During every trip to town to Sit, inhabit medical facilities or procure supplies, I've run into friends and sangha-mates who lit me up like a candle with their bright eyes and kindness.

I feel quite Blessed.

I'm so Grateful to the Teachings and the Practice, for seeing clearly again that there is a quality of consciousness that is available to us that embraces both "gloriousness and wretchedness" with equanimity and loving kindness.  Carefully opening our hearts and minds to the entire gamut of our experience, without clinging to the joys or pushing away the discomforts actually is possible.  You can be okay with not okay.


I'm  Grateful to the Shirelles as well, for reminding me at the perfect moment that "there'll be days like this."  There'll be days like that, as well.  ( In addition, following a certain Zen tradition, I should also add:  There'll be days that are both this and that.  Days that are neither this nor that.) 

Anyway you say it --or don't say it --it's Life as it is. Heartwarming.  Heartbreaking. We can increasingly become Present for it all.

At this stage of the journey, I'm pleased to report that this is not Theory.  It's Practice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spider bite discomfort does last a very long time with pain deep to the muscle tissues as it runs to the connecting joint. Low back? This I've experienced myself. Bit in the back of the calf, thought my knee joint was going to need surgery it was so locked in place with pain. Glad to hear you are one with it, if that be it!!
Becoming more awake to the power of consciousness is addictive once feeling the results and joy it brings. Personally, I'm in love with it. Results are so amazing! And...as you say, it's the practice that keeps one tuned in. Everyday is a new experience. I don't think you can store up consciousness can you? Seems to just come along sooner than later when it's practiced regularly. Narrow is the path! Thanks for the continuing reminder that it is indeed something that needs to be 'practiced' and does not just happen without nurturing. I like to think of it as 'my spirit' taking the lead over mind and body. That in itself is encouragement to press on to find the joy while my dance card fills up and time grows shorter for this human experience.
Bottom line, consciousness is AMAZING!