Being Where I Am
Occasionally, during meditation or contemplation, an image will appear. Other times, a sign. A symbol. A symptom. An emotion. A feeling. A sensation. It will often come suddenly or unexpectedly, but sometimes it is at the margins of my attention for a while; I have a subtle awareness, but I haven’t slowed down enough to notice how it is rippling through my body.
My first inclination, upon noticing that I'm having an experience, especially one of agitation or fear, is to contract. I don’t immediately interpret the arrival or arising of anxiety or pain as an invitation or a harbinger of anything good. However, I am attempting to cultivate a commitment to the practice of attunement, wanting to trust that there is a process in play, that there is a path unfolding. So, eventually I will myself to follow my reactivity, my resistance, and it generally goes to a good place . . . in other words, I risk it and it is seemingly worth the risk. I am learning to slow down and to respect the uniqueness of the journey I am on, even when it's really uncomfortable.
Before I turn away from the fire of whatever the current suffering may be, before I reject even the possibility of burning, I say "ok" for a minute, and enter into the flames of my anger, resentment or fear. I give the often painful sensations my focused attention. With my breath and my awareness, I carefully descend into the center of the heat or the agitation. Sometimes when I do this, I am simply in the agitated state, and can only be there, being that, doing that. For multiple meditations, my mind might be busy and I cannot settle . . . When I am able to titrate in and out, in and out of these unwanted states, eventually, I notice that Love is available, like a cooling, quieting presence.
When Love comes, I can notice that nothing is happening to me from the outside. I am not a victim of this discomfort. With the perspective of Love, I can be in the pit of despair in my solar plexus, and tenderly attend to an old, orphaned aspect of myself that is emerging and expressing its longing. An aspect of myself, lost in childhood, is seeking to be reunited with my inner family. I can listen closely, as her cry emerges out of the furnace:
“Please know me. Please stay. Please remember. Please stay, stay, and stay again, for one more breath and then, maybe one more. Breathe for me a sanctuary so I can dwell in this body. No harm will come from holding me close, only a reminder of all the dimensions of you that make you whole.”
With practice, including her becomes easier, a more natural instinct to turn toward the distress signal rather than distract myself . . . As my heart expands and my body relaxes, I find myself unexpectedly understanding the evolutionary implications of what it means to be alive. Being where I am, with how and what I am experiencing, I catch a momentary glimpse of where I am headed next.