Silence from Aruni!
Perhaps, my voice does, too.
I really am a worker-bee. The longer I live inside my own experience, the older I get, the more I see how driven I am by external tasks.
I’m surely not saying that I don’t get credit for what I do. Actually, more and more, I receive acknowledgement and credit for my actions. But/and, despite that acknowledgement, I continue to do more; I continue to look to tasks outside myself into which I can lend my energy.
Guess what? There are always next things to do. The list of cosmic to do’s is eternal and never-ending.
This month my work schedule has radically slowed. I have no teaching, nowhere really “to go”. This blessed freedom and wild slowdown has opened up a Pandora’s Box of self-awareness.
Who am I if I am not teaching?
How can I live a “beneficial” life if I am alone and not doing?
Where can I mindfully lend my energy in house-tasks, to move us into spring?
What if I can no longer write; what if I have nothing to say?
How can I take actions, while surrendering into that place of non-doing, in the midst of the task at hand?
After a week of wild erranding throughout the width and breath of Berkshire County, I made a pledge to “stay home” yesterday. I did stay home, not counting car-pooling the dog to and fro to doggie day care (he does not yet have his driver’s license).
I “stayed home”.
I wandered about.
And then I noticed: the oven. Oh, the oven. When was the last time anyone cleaned that poor oven? How many ovens have I cleaned, in my sixty-five years on earth? Zero? Two? Unclear.
So I cleaned the oven. As an experiment in non-doing, an inquiry in being centered and quiet in the midst of the action (spray, wipe off, reach into those unreachable places), I breathed and relaxed. It was—okay. It was—several hours. And the over got cleaned.
And I practiced. Wholly imperfectly. But I practiced.
Maybe it’s okay to not have a lot of words.
Maybe it’s okay to not write.
Maybe it’s age appropriate to be tired.
Maybe it’s developmentally timely to struggle into pausing.
Maybe the silence is a deeper doorway home.
I really don’t know.
I am just practicing.
What the heck?
On so many levels of my life, I feel pretty darn comfortable these days. I’m aware of an emerging ease I am having with myself, inhabiting my skin with a bit more relaxed permission these days. Permission to be where I am, I guess. It’s all unfolding and I am unfolding with it, this thing, my life.
Yet it appears that my unconscious has something else to say.
I dreamt I was riding a bike to get to my office, to see a client. I couldn’t manage the bike very well; I kept starting and stopping, having to constantly rebalance with childlike frustration. I was profoundly aware of how my brain wasn’t firing right! It was excruciating. I eventually made it into work (Kripalu in the future?). It was unrecognizable. I lost the bike, couldn’t find things, dumped my bag out, and lost my cell phone. Gone now were all of my pictures of Lucy on the phone! Nobody would help and I was met with great snootiness from the ridiculously young and uber-cool staff.
And those were the easier parts of the dream. It went south from there.
What on earth might this message be?
Of course I am terrified of aging, of losing “it”, mentally and physically.
Of course it really does matter to me what happens in the evolution of Kripalu, no matter how much bluster I put up, no matter how much detachment I feign about its future.
Maybe because I am more relaxed and more comfortable, I can now allow the anxiety to emerge?
Maybe because I am allowing myself to inhabit what is, I can now peak into what-might-be with a tad more courage?
Maybe the growing faith unfolding in my life, a faith that tells me it’s going to be okay, no matter what happens, maybe that faith is allowing me to now experience my own fear?
At the end of the dream, I encountered the only person who would listen to me. She was older, had greyish hair, painted nails, and quietly took in my words without response.
Perhaps in her I met another part of myself in this dream.
Perhaps my anxious and terrified self can find solace in the mature me, the one capable of listening, of containing, of holding.
Fear and faith—comfort and dis-ease:
It’s all sacred. It’s all true. It’s all inevitable.
Walking at sunrise this morning with Zac the Dog, Richmond Pond blew open my heart yet again. Those layers of ice, that ice that seemed to never waiver, that ice that held cars and people and lots of them—was melting!
Ice to water!
Can you see it in this picture’s light of dawn?
It happens. It always happens, yet, in the happening, a renewal of the miraculous seems to unfold.
Ice will give up its hold and turn to water.
Rigid frozen earth does soften into slushy mud.
The cold light of winter does shift, oh, so subtly, into caressing, expansive light.
The hollow silence will give way to the fullness, to the richness of bird calls.
The earth awakens again. In spite of the intensity of this past winter, its frigidity and loss and endlessness, the birds returned. And with them come fullness, softness, aliveness, and renewal.
I sit on the porch beneath the blue sky. I am long-john free, only wearing two thin layers. Scanning my body, I am shocked–I might be warm!
Zac sits in the grass, in the shade, surveying, guarding, watching over his domain. I sit within mine—my home, my wife, my dog, my life—with a quietude of gratitude, with a gentle hope.
Spring may actually be here.
It is so challenging to just be right here, right now! We are everywhere, with our darting and wild minds; imagining what might be, often with dread and/or reliving what was, often with regret. Our wandering minds bring us great suffering. There is an easier way of being, a way that releases the struggle and allows us space and time and pause, to savor what is.
Yogic philosophy teaches us that there is inherent balance between the body, the mind, and the spirit. This unity, this yoga, is our birthright. Unfortunately as we “grow up”, our minds gain strength and overwhelm these other aspects of ourselves. The mind thinks it is in charge, and tries to run the show. It overpowers the body; the connection to the spirit often becomes a mere whisper.
Quieting the mind, becoming present in the moment, experiencing what is rather than trying to create what might be or stuck in what was, is the doorway to freedom from the busy mind. Our minds need to be trained to be the most effective ally they can be. It is our responsibility to quiet the mind by entering into the moment—the power of that pause is profound. Much information is available to us, separate from the filter of the mind.
How can we bring the power of pause into our daily lives? Here are some simple yet effective suggested practices:
o At every red light, take three deep breathes. Relax and notice your moment.
o Set your phone, a timer, or an ap for a certain time each day. When it rings, breathe. Relax. Consider this moment fully yours.
o Practice standing meditation. At some point during the day (at the water cooler? at the printer?) feel your feet on the floor. Let your body gently sway from front to back, from side to side. Come back to center. Feel your body on the earth.
o If an animal companion graces your life, take a mindful moment and watch your kitty or your dog (or your “whatever”). Our animals are so plugged into the moment–they hold the door open for us. They are indeed, as Eckhart Tolle says, “the guardians of being.” Yes, the Power of Paws works so well!
Enjoy your practice of pausing into presence. Let this practice be a mindful experiment, without right or wrong, without effort or struggle. Relax and simply watch.
Savor what is! It is all we have.