"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Step Forward, One Step Back

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.”
― Rumi

"When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something. We might realize that this is a very vulnerable and tender place, and that tenderness can go either way. We can shut down and feel resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing quality. ”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

It has been snowing steadily all morning and, once again, the world outside the window is being transformed.  In another cycle of what seems to be constant oscillation this winter, a predominantly brown world again fades to white, springlike temperatures plunge into the nether realms.  Perhaps, Mother Nature is doing her part to remind us of the nature of Life itself.

I've noticed that as I sit at the keyboard to muse about the Practice each Thursday morning, there is a particular quality of consciousness that emerges.  Although there are certainly moments of befuddlement and confusion, sometimes swaths of time in which I stammer and stumble ahead haltingly, only to hit the backspace key and take a few steps back again and again, it seems that I generally return to being quite aware of a space beyond any of the thoughts find their way into my fingers.  I generally spend many moments being aware of Awareness itself. I like it when that happens.

There is a problem with it, though.

In reading over some of my past posts this past week, I found myself wondering if I was too quick to present the high side of a Life of Practice without acknowledging how very difficult and challenging it can be to truly open one's heart to the reality of the human condition as it is actually lived in our day to day lives.  It seems to me that I can spend a bit too much airtime raving about the fact that Life is Miraculous and Beautiful, not enough time acknowledging that Life Sucks.

That Life Sucks is, after all, the first Noble Truth of Buddhism.  Suffering, according to the Buddha,  is a basic characteristic of human existence.  It is woven into the fabric of Life itself.  I believe that Jesus was also getting at this when he proclaimed "Blessed be those who mourn."

So, although I am quite grateful for the many moments of magic that grace each day, and quite clear that the Practice continuously supports me to experience that, I also am quite clear that to apprehend the Real Deal, I've had to open my heart and mind to the incontrovertible reality that each of us will die.  I've had to accept that each of us will be hurt, both emotionally and physically, along the way. I've had to see clearly that even in good health and good spirits, we all are likely to experience a myriad of disappointments and dis-satisfactions amidst the mundane realities of our day to day life. 
There will be springlike days.  There will be days with sub-zero wind chills.  Sometimes it's one step forward.  Sometimes one step back.

The Practice doesn't alter that reality.  It simply makes it more workable.  Through the commitment to spend time in meditation, through the willingness to gently and carefully open one's hearts to the fear and the frustration and the pain and the grief encountered in our life and in the lives of those around us, we tap into a source of great energy and healing.  I call it the One Love. 

Oops.  I was about to start raving about the Miraculous and the Beautiful again.



Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this reading, gonna be following your blog, thanks.

Susan Peck said...

Beautifully said, Lance. Being open to all that life is can be challenging, but I feel a sense of relief and calm when I face reality. And doing this within a community gives me solace and strength. Thank you for this. And Happy Winter!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree. life is full of ups and downs, comfortable feelings as well as uncomfortable, personally felt to the core, and sometimes just our hearts are in pain for another sufferer. I am geared to finding the beauty in each moment, be it from,uncomfortable or bliss.
whatever,or whoever, steps into the circle of ones self, self has the option to make it heaven or hell. How you choose, greatly affects those who have stepped into your circle, those just outside your aura, as well as yourself. So yes, I see how one, who has such and open heart, can, and is lead into the practice of joy by just being, be it black or white, it's real, it's now, it's engaging in the dance,it's part of the practice.
I enjoy your shared awareness, it's a 'wake up' call.
What a winter! It's deadly and beautiful at the same time.