Staying Here

Right now, writing a blog post feels like the mornings when I don’t feel like getting on the yoga mat. Then I get myself physically onto the mat because it’s not far from the bed, and I might just lie there on my back for a bit. Lying there, I might start to roll around a bit, and then I get interested. So here I am, rolling around a bit.

Often when I’m up against resistance, it’s not expressed in torpor or laziness; it’s more like restlessness. I’m jumping ahead of myself, avoiding what’s required to stay here long enough… to get started and then to simply stay here.

In the meditation group I led last night, a couple of people talked about what it’s like when they notice themselves waiting for the sound of the chime that signals the end of the practice session. Thoughts like, “Am I going to make it!??!” And the group discussed and laughed about this, what happens when the I-need-to-leave-NOW!! thoughts or feelings come, about not being able to stay with our experience. How do we practice with that? (And what does it mean to not “make it” for a session of meditation??!)

Yes, I’ve had the experience too, noticing times when I’m waiting for the chime, checking the time, even abandoning the cushion. And this partly is what meditation is for, to see what happens (or doesn’t happen) when we stay here. Even when it’s difficult, or when our thoughts are pitching us forward and into the next activity or distraction of our day. What gets really interesting is how and when these thoughts and feelings come up in daily life.

How would we prefer to be with ourselves, and with each other, for the experiences that are hard to start and stay for? What’s happening in the mind? Do we “check out” when it’s challenging? Where do we “go,” and is it serving us well? What else is possible?

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important calls for my attention – the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage I need to buy for the trip. Even now I can hardly sit here among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside already screeching and banging. The mystics say you are as close as my own breath. Why do I flee from you? My days and nights pour through me like complaints and become a story I forgot to tell. Help me. Even as I write these words, I am planning to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

Marie Howe, “Prayer,” from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time


One comment

  1. alicia says:

    what a great post! i’m glad i sat myself down long enough to read it 🙂 seriously! i feel beset by the urge to rush and skim over “personal” stuff while at work…giving life short shrift. and i, too, find it a curious exploration of what my mind does when confronted with hard things. it’s my pattern to go take care of the easier things first, letting the hard thing sit in my consciousness/anxiety for a while til i find it unbearable and must act.

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