12. Sitting with Myself
Based on my journal entry February 14 2015
So there I was, sitting with myself as my feelings came up, allowing them to wash through me. This is in contrast to my past pattern of running off on my inner self, distracting myself with other thoughts or projects, focusing on other people, or telling myself that my feelings were silly or wrong.
It’s only as I’m editing this blog on August 27 that I remember being taken through a guided meditation a couple of years ago, where we went into a beautiful room at the top of a castle. We were then asked to visualize a person sitting there with us who would listen in the most loving and non-judgmental way to whatever we needed to say … I waited … I imagined … I squinted and searched for this person … I waited some more. You know what I got?
When we were later asked to share with a partner, I had to admit to the disturbing feeling that there was no-one in my beautiful room in my castle to sit with me. Hmmm … Interesting. It’s only today that this memory resurfaced.
I know that some people reading this account of the inner world would not only run off, but would run a mile!
I’ve done that in the past, and ‘abandoned myself’ in other ways as well:
In running off on myself and refusing to commit to daily meditation practice, it’s as if I was saying, “You don’t deserve that level of ongoing care.” As I used to say to people about my complete lack of gardening prowess, and the fact that everything used to die: “I like planting things …… you mean I have to keep on watering them as well?!”
At one stage, I had completely abandoned my inner work and meditation for a number of years, telling myself to just ‘stay in the real world!’ Dr. Craig Hassed’s talk at my workplace a couple of years ago, then his book ‘The Essence of Health’ brought me back to my meditation in the most gentle and profound way. The fact that meditation is now being called mindfulness and is becoming mainstream is giving so many people the tools to return to inner peace. I feel privileged to have heard him speak.
Another of my meditation teachers is Marise. In her gentle and clear presence I was able to enter a deep state of relaxation and peace. She reminded us of the word practice, and explained to us that meditation is not striving to get somewhere, striving for a state of bliss, or a state of anything really. It’s that action of noticing, noticing that the thoughts have wandered off, then the action of bringing the mind back to the breath, the mantra, the image, the body sensation, whatever you’re working with. My mind was like a toddler at a picnic, taking a quick bite of a sandwich then repeatedly running off up a tree or over to the playground. Meditation is like taking the toddler by the hand and bringing her back to eat her lunch. Bringing the mind back … That’s the muscle that’s being exercised. That’s the neural pathway that’s being strengthened. That’s the meditation.
I’ve made a deeper commitment to myself now. I will a) sit and gently be with myself when my feelings come up, and b) sit with myself every morning for thirty minutes, without fail. I will bring my attention back to me. I’m worthy of that care.
I will always be a meditator. But I’ll only ever be practising.
A couple of days later – February 16, 2015
I’m continuing my SLP (self-love programme).
I plan delicious meals, sometimes using ingredients from my own garden. Some of the food I harvest has actually self-sown from the season before. Ahh, the bounty of nature! Did I mention that my garden is growing well now? I make sure I go for my twenty minute bike ride every second day, then do a half-hour walk on the other days. I read. I rest when I need to.
I know some of you may be saying, “I don’t have time for all that self-care.”
At this point in my life I’m in the most fortunate position of working a half-time workload, so I have time to devote to my much-needed SLP and to my book publishing journey. Over a year ago I applied for this time fraction, thinking it was simply time to cut back on work, and hasn’t it worked out perfectly! It seems it was pre-planned. I no longer question these more and more frequent ‘fortuitous’ situations that I find myself in. I only marvel and give thanks. There’s clearly a picture that is much bigger than what my little mind can comprehend. As Katie Noonan sings in her song “A Quiet Day” – ‘I am a brushstroke on a big canvas that is not by me.’
I’m now having times of nameless joy, as well as an ongoing sense of quiet contentment. How do I know this? I’m humming and singing around the house again. No reason, often no particular song, just repeatedly humming a little tune.
P.S. A ‘real-time’ note:- August 28, 2015
– Over the past few months I’ve upped the ante with my meditation practice. I’m learning the various techniques of Qui Gong. Wow! The discipline and rigour of these practices turns meditation into an extreme sport!