Seeking Comfort (written 2016)
I am clutching a pile of fresh clothes in my arms, along with soap and towel and other assorted items. When I come into the large room, the bathtub is full of strange things. Large things. Broken things. Unidentifiable things. Grubby things. Some sort of project. “I'm not going to be able to have my bath, am I?” I say despondently and my husband gives me a look that says “Isn't it obvious?”, while only answering “No.”
I head out the door into a corridor and take an elevator up to a prettily appointed spa. A woman I don't know is standing at the mirror, toweling wet hair. She gives me a pitying look and says “Sorry, the water just went off.”
I don't even answer, just back out the door and continue my quest. There are several other disappointing stops. It's amazing how many tubs are theoretically available without walking far really, but then that's the way dreams are.
When I wake from the dream I am feeling sad, lonely and confused. In need of comfort. That's the emotional flavor that lingers. No surprise. That's the mood I was in as I struggled with my monkey mind before finding sleep the night before. And baths, well, what's more comforting than a long soak in a tub, away from all those who may have misunderstood and not appreciated me? Melting away body tension and stress. The symbolism doesn't escape me as I swing my feet over the side of the bed.
The evening before I had a very ordinary and undramatic experience. A disappointment. Expecting a certain kind of experience in a social gathering and finding something else instead. Feeling isolated. Feeling unconnected. Contracting into a self that felt misunderstood and alone. And despite all my understanding that I was doing myself no good, I allowed this experience to remain in my head. I climbed into bed replaying the emotions, reinforcing them. I fell into thought patterns around “home” and “belonging” and “friendship”...all theoretical and analytical and completely useless except in so far as they served to wind the spool of thinking tighter and tighter. Pretty uncomfortable. Not sure when I finally fell asleep.
This morning, in the aftermath of my dream, I see clearly the small self with all its stuff seeking comfort. I see the story telling, the projecting and the wall-building. The blaming directed outward and the pity directed inward. My body still holds the results.
Breathing and feeling now, no longer caught in thinking, I go through my morning routine. Open my gratitude journal and pick up my pen. Begin to move my thoughts toward what is lovely, what is nourishing in my life. I write briefly about only a few. Then I move to the floor, dream mood receding, and go through my yin routine. I move my contracted and stiff body into favorite asanas and breathe there, surrendering into the earth and letting resistance to “what is” melt away. By the time I move to my altar, light candles and incense, make my bows and take my seat to meditate, I am feeling soft. Still a little sad maybe but more open and larger somehow. Not the little stooped being huddled protectively over what is mine and scurrying around looking for an escape. That mood is gone. Impermanent. I find my breath and the beating of my heart and send love to myself. This is what it is to be human and to be led by momentary emotions into painful places that can seem so real, both waking and sleeping. Places that have no substance, that dissolve when I look closely. This is sadness. This is loneliness. Patches of fog that dissipate in the heat and light of loving acceptance.
All of this, or some of it, I might have done last night when wisdom eluded me. Still, this morning,
awake and alert, if not awakened yet, I'm back on track, beginning again.