Today is a miserable day. The weather is grey with sleet and rain coming down, and a bone chilling cold that demands flannel PJs, a roaring fire and a hot cup of tea. It is also meditation lesson day and I did not want dear Monica to have to roust herself from her home cocoon to teach me my next lesson. Frankly I was concerned about her safety on the roads.
So being ever resourceful we decided that we would try this next lesson via Skype. It seemed a bit incongruent to use technology in such a practice, given that in my mind I think this should be as stripped down as possible. However, Monica’s safety overrode any attachment I put on technology and we gave it a try.
I managed to get my laptop set up in my meditation/dressing/library/guest room with Skype video running smoothly. Given that I live with technology guy, everything worked beautifully. Monica called in and we were ready to go.
In my personal practice I have been working on trying to sit longer and with more ease. What I have been noticing in my “outside” life is that I am adjusting to my life circumstances and thinking about things in a slightly different way. That small change in perspective is allowing me an interesting clarity that is not based in reaction, but a holistic view of my path. This is an interesting nuance for me. I find that one of the reasons I treasure time off in exotic places so much is that it puts me in a non-comfort zone that forces me to adapt. The places are often unknown and culturally shocking, my typical way of being in the world cannot be relied upon. My eyes look differently, my ears hear unknown sounds, my taste buds are assaulted, and my cultural norms in North America are often completely out of place. Every sense including my sense of well-being is tested.
Since I am in a very new place now, that of the unemployed and searching for my next great contribution, who I am is being tested as well. Meditation is adjusting not only how I see the world, but how I see myself. Part of it is focus – but frankly focus has never been a problem for me. Part of it is also presence in the moment – and that is more fleeting. We constantly make decisions in our lives, and generally to resolve an immediate need.
Monica used the rocks in a jar analogy which is one I have always loved. I realize that the jar (me) has most recently been changed to a degree. The big rocks going in to fill that jar are the things that are the most important to me and how I want to spend my time. One of those big rocks (job) is missing at the moment, but truly important rocks continue to remain (husband, family, friends, home). Smaller rocks fill some of the spaces between the larger rocks (volunteer work, consulting) to a greater degree at the moment as I have the time and space to do a bit more. And in between that is the sands of every day life. Is the jar filled yet? Not really as there is still room for water. For me this is what binds everything together and creates a synchronicity and connectedness within the jar. So everything has shifted a bit.
This week we talked about sensations and tried a meditation of awareness of sensations, specifically pain. There is physical as well as mental pain that we all deal with. I concentrated on a bit of physical pain and found that the meditation was a way to dissipate the energy and focus on the sensation of pain to an energy of being. A small shift that takes the attention elsewhere.
From there, we moved into a silent meditation of just being. Monica was silent and I focused on my breath. All in all we did a full 50 minutes which is the longest I have been able to go. I must say that the last 10 minutes were extremely difficult. I was losing my place as it were, trying to not allow other things to pop into my head. But this is in essence the practice. Acknowledge and push away to get back to presence.
Did technology impact the success of this lesson? I found that using Skype was a terrific way to continue to connect with Monica and learn from her, without the concern for her safety in the weather. As I think on this further, it also means that she can touch more people who are interested in this practice regardless of distance.
So fill your jars with only that which is important and meaningful for you, and allow some fluidity in your life to connect you to the present. The journey continues…