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

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The Musings of a Long-time Student of Meditation

Friday, February 5, 2021

One Love. One Heart.

“In Chinese, the word for heart and mind is the same -- Hsin.
 For when the heart is open and the mind is clear 
they are of one substance, of one essence.” 
-- Stephen Levine

"Love is not what we become but who we already are."
-- Stephen Levine

I slept in this morning for the first time in quite awhile.  

Although I did awaken at around 4:30, to participate in my early morning recycling project, I immediately returned to bed.  There, I followed my breathing into "dozing/dreaming meditation." 
 
A long, rather vivid, dream quickly emerged.  It was unsettling.  
 
With echoes of my many "personal failures" ringing through my mind, I awoke again.  I glanced at the clock.  It read 6:45! That's wicked late in my world.  Yikes!

Feeling harried and hurried, I went into the bathroom to do a bit more recycling.  Then I picked up the iPhone and cast my Lojong Slogan for the day: Number 49. "Always meditate on the difficult emotions that emerge."

That sounded right on, I could feel a deep sadness welling in my chest  -- but, damn,  it was LATE!  I had a long list of things to do today.  The hiss of the morning traffic on High Street concurred.  It was rush hour.  Just keep moving! 
 
To Sit or Not to Sit

For decades now, settling into a one hour morning meditation "first thing in the morning" has come quite naturally most every day.  I committed to it long ago.  Usually, the momentum of this commitment carries me along like an autumn leaf floating on the surface of a dancing brook under a clear blue sky.  Life flows on.  I flow on.  When it's night time, I read a bit of dharma.  Then I meditate into sleep.  When it's morning, I awake. Then I get up and pee.  Then, I Sit Still for an hour.    

That bedrock ritual became a bit rocky this past week, though.  

I actually missed my morning meditation three days in a row, then only sat for 20 minutes the next day.  Yet, what's the big deal? After all, I still meditate -- a lot.  
 
Since the COVID pandemic made in-person meetings a health hazard, I Zoom into the Morning Mindfulness Meditation Meeting that I facilitate at 9 AM, Monday through Friday.  I facilitate three other Mindfulness Heart Circles on-line each week as well.  (BTW.  All these are free and open to all.) Although, wintry ice and an unmaintained parking lot have prevented me from dawn meditations at Unity Park on the Connecticut River, I still occasionally make it to the Noon Meditation Vigil on the Greenfield Town Commons as well during the week.  So. What's the big deal about my personal morning meditation?

To be honest, most of time, I don't know.  I just do it.

What I do know, though, is that this morning, I woke up late and was off and running!   I actually had sat down in front of the computer, ready to tackle the first thing on the list, before I hit the pause button.  I stopped, sat up a bit straighter and took a long, slow, deep breath.   Sitting there, I sensed that place in me that appears to make choices.  It became clear to me.  Rather than just "go with the flow"this morning, I had to stand in the way of my own momentum.  A real decision had to be made.  
 
After a few more conscious breaths, I stood up and headed back to in the bedroom.  I faced the altar.  As I've done thousands of times before, I bowed, set the timer for an hour, and Sat.
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The Real Deal

I'm glad I did.  

During that hour, I settled down and rested in the awareness of my breath and my body.   I chose to let go of all the narratives that emerged, and opened my heart to the feelings that had surfaced during my early morning dream.  Tasting directly the energy of these feelings, I could feel the universal nature of our human suffering.   I breathed it directly into my heart.  Opening further, relaxing and widening my inner gaze, I came to rest in the vast, spacious embrace of the One Love.  Then, I breathed out care for all.  I did this again and again.
 
Breathing in.  Breathing out.  Thoughts emerged -- and passed.  Breathing in. Breathing out.  Feelings emerged and passed.  Breathing in.  Breathing out.  Love embraced Love.  
 
The hour passed by rather swiftly.

Now, sitting here at this old Mac laptop, I'm filled with a sense of wonder, exhilaration, and deep gratitude.  With Practice, I've again seen that this tender, caring, achy-breaky, wounded little human heart glowing in my chest is my direct connection to the vast, warm, bright, spaciousness of the One Love.  In fact, I've seen clearly these are "not two".  In Love, there is no separation.

I don't always see that, of course.  Immersed in the swirl of a 21st century life in a materialistic society, I can get swept away all to often.  But, I've seen it often enough, felt it in my cells strongly enough to know the One Love is the Real Deal. 

Towards the One

Life flows on.  Inseparable from Life, I flow on.

At age 75 (almost), I really do see that I am like a leaf floating along the surface of a sparkling brook as it dances toward the sea.  In this dance, there is breathing and seeing and hearing and touching and feeling and thinking and deciding.  There is knowing and not-knowing.

Sometimes, thoughts and feelings can swirl me up with them into the vortex of a powerful whirlpool.  In the past, these whirlpools would sweep me away.  Sometimes for months.  It wasn't pretty.  In my blindness and confusion I harmed myself and others.

Yet, these days, it's different.  
 
I can usually see these thoughts and feelings for what they are.  They are just part of the human dance.  More and more, I can meet them and greet them as old friends, the consequences of our shared human condition.  I can breath them into my heart, bow to them, and wish them well as they come -- and go. 
 
With Practice, I can now choose to return to the present moment and Love.

Floating along the surface of life's stream, it's clear to me that there will be always be whirlpools and there will periods of calm as the brook dances its way to dissolve into the vastness of the sea.  
 
Yet, with Practice, I've seen that the water beneath and beyond this ever-changing dance is always deep, calm, and clear -- and it is not separate from the vast, open expanse of the blue sky stretching overhead.  The One Love embraces it all.

I'm sure glad I sat this morning. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very moving and thoughtful, Lance, thank you, once again; your words touched me, and I cried...