When I come to sit, I always find what I need to find. I see what I need to see.
So often we seek to rise above, to access a different plane of experience. I want to be filled with heavenly light and waves of unconditional love, of understanding and otherwordly-peace. Instead, I see my irritation with partner.
I see my guilt about not being more present with my son. I see the way I am beating myself up for something insensitive I said to a friend. I see my resentment that my weekly schedule seems full of tasks that meet other people’s needs. I see my disappointment that the day hasn’t gone the way I wanted, that I don’t feel the way I expected to feel or that I aspire to feel or that I think I “should” feel.
And I see my doubt that in this imperfectly perfect moment, beauty is here for me to find.
As seekers we can’t help but want the transcendent experience that will take us out of these earthly bodies with our infantile feelings, sweep us up out of the mundane intricacies of the human life, and set us back down with transformed awareness. And sometimes we do get blessed with profound spiritual experiences.
But the most powerful and subtle work is the commitment to being with the moment just as it is. Only the longer we sit the more the surface layer starts to peel back and — oh! look at all we were missing!
The compassion I have been withholding from myself. The gratitude I have for recent provision. The honoring of my own process of working through and letting go. The comfort of the sun’s rays. The rustle of a soft breeze. The gift of encouragement from a mentor. The trees, the earth, the sky, the aliveness all around me. The things I have to look forward to. The celebration of recent accomplishments and new endeavors. The realization that everything all the time is in transition.
And right now is “it.” There is nothing I seek that does not exist within this moment. And now I can smile at it all, I can see that it is all part of the ever-changing landscape, a kaleidoscope of light and dark and every color on the spectrum.
We don’t have to wait for something outside to break through.
The magic of being with what is transforms our vision. It means that I honor my experience, whatever it may be. Throughout the day, whether my task is pleasant or tedious, whether the moment feels trying, mundane or profound, I extend permission to my resistance, disappointment or restlessness. I tell myself “You would rather be doing something else and that’s ok.” Dishes still need to be washed and dinner prepared and phone calls returned.
As Pema Chodron says that “this very moment is the perfect teacher”, just being with what is. It may take some strengthening of muscles we aren’t used to using but in time we increase our endurance. Instead of looking for an escape route we can stay where we are, we can stand our ground, we can breathe through it and see it is not bigger than us. We can see that they are just feelings about doing the dishes, not the dishes themselves. And they pass. Like the tantrums of a toddler, fierce in their wake but quickly receding.
The magic of coming to sit again and again to come fully awake, to remind myself I am alive. and that this is a truly grand thing.
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”