"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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Shelter from the Storm

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In the past few weeks, I've experienced some stormy seas. 

Although "life as usual" for me is rather unusual as I continue to explore the practice of what Uchiyama Roshi termed a "Life of Vow and Repentance," this has been a particularly unsettled and, at times unsettling, passage through time and space.  

With the world still immersed in the COVID19 Pandemic, leaving hOMe Sweet hOMe to shelter in place with my partner Migdalia at her place in Springfield, hasn't been easy for either of us.  Just the logistics of daily life have, at times, been daunting.  Reaching beyond that, trying to stay in touch with family, and to be of service to my CircleMates and peers in the recovery community have created many long days and, at times, relatively sleepless nights.   

For quite sometime now, I had taken refuge in my own solitary morning meditations in my own space most days a week.  I'd also spend ample time outside walking around town to shop, serve, and hang out, ample time outside in Mother Nature's embrace.  I also derived the benefit of meditating and sharing life and practice several times a week with my CircleMates in the Mindfulness Circles.  Time with Migdalia, mostly on the weekends, was generally playful and relaxed.  Within all the storminess of life as it is (both inner and outer,) I had been blessed to co-create a set of healthy and fulfilling routines that provided sufficient "shelter from the storm," to keep me from being driven too far off course.

Much of that was washed away in the past month.  Even the Mindfulness Circles, now experienced remotely in front of a computer, and expanded to five days a week, haven't been immune from storminess.   

Yet, as I sit here now, April showers, masquerading as wet snowflakes, dance under looming gray clouds outside the window.  Pausing to feel my heart, to breath in the sights and sounds of this moment, the reality of storminess--rather than my thoughts about it-- just emerged unfettered.  In the midst of what would be termed "nasty" weather, a sense of wonder and peace emerge.  It is actually quite beautiful out there!  I just felt the tightness in my shoulders release and a grin emerge on my face. 

Life as it is...

The moment I turned my gaze to what was happening outside the world of my own thoughts and feelings to realize the actual storminess that is exists in this moment outside the window, a shift of consciousness occurred -- spontaneously!  As soon as my awareness was released from the story lines about shelters and storms, and good and bad, and gain and loss, the expansiveness and fullness of Life as it is returned. 

Although the aspiration to "accept life as it is" (the essence of the Samaya Vow in Tibetan Buddhism) does support our ever-deepening ability to choose our relationship to the present moment, I didn't choose to change the channel.   I merely raised my eyes to look outside.

I love it when that happens. 

Of course, it's not always that easy.  There will still be shelters and storms and wet and dry and good and bad and gain and loss woven into the fabric of our lives.  There are hard times and there are easy times; times to cruise, times to roll up our sleeves.  The relative plane of existence is absolutely there.  It is not separate from the Essential Oneness.

Life is just like that.


Yet, as the Practice matures, we come to see for ourselves that it is precisely our attempts to control the world to meet our own models of how it should be, and our own resistances to what is actually occurring, that ultimately separate us from one another, and from the ever present Oneness of Life.  

The flow of the Universe is incessant and any attempt to create a lasting shelter from the storm is doomed to disappointment. Yet, when we turn to face Life directly, the shelter emerges from within the storm itself.  It rests securely in the embrace of the present moment. 

Sometimes, when we relax and just let it hold us, the One Love becomes palpable.

It is sheer grace.





2 comments:

Conveyance Doctor said...

Lance, you've done it...again... "the shelter within the storm"! If I can borrow flow Thich Nhat Hanh, this post of your IS the raft that I will ride in the (current) River of Life. Thank you.

Lance Smith said...

I'm glad that this piece resonated with you, Friend.
One Love,
Lance