Three Mornings (written 2014)
The first morning:
This morning I began with reading/chanting the Loving Kindness Discourse. Have known this one in English for awhile and trying now to commit it to memory in Pali. This is challenging. May not happen, yet it's beautiful to listen to, beautiful to read and feel the syllables on my tongue.
Afterward, sitting, I watch my mind and body. Noting and letting the selfing dissolve. Asking as I see each thing that grips me and pulls me in, “How can I be with this? How can I make space around it?” Not pushing it away, wishing it away, but opening.
Later still, how much time passes? Twenty minutes, more? Then, perhaps nudged by the loving-kindness earlier, I feel an opening that is sweeping and involuntary. Delicious in the extreme.
One of my teachers has advised me to spend time in reflection after meditation where I let remembering and thinking happen in a limited way. What happened in that time? What was I doing when that happened? What did I learn there? Reviewing the process. This is something new for me in terms of a regular process. It leads to some interesting insights.
Today I think about what people hear when I speak of my practice as “the container” for my life. Does this seem restrictive to them? Yet, each of us lives within a container...that provided by the circumstances, the accident of birth: our parents, this body, this country, these expectations and values and cultural mores. Not seeing the boundaries and just going with this, unaware, is not freedom but the opposite. To see this and choose the container that is meaningful, that is freedom of heart and mind.
This is akin to yin, coaxing the body through gentle moves into postures that are unfamiliar. Opening the body in this way, breaking out of the tightened restrictions of habit and time, allowing new limits and possibilities, greater ease.
Joy from this sitting lingers into an evening of discussion with Dhamma friends and carries into refreshing sleep all the way into the morning and to my cushion again.
The second morning:
Then, today, watching body and mind, I feel a shadow flitting through the sunny field of contentment and ease. Is it irritation or impatience? It is a wanting anyway. A wanting to linger in this. Not to have to deal with the world's demands. The mind sways today like long grass in the wind, attention drifting between peace and this pulling desire. “How can I make space around this?” The question is the whole of the sitting, paired with each breath. I continue to feel the tension that is desire's trademark quality. This is what I have to be with today. This is a harder place to be, but no less infused with awareness.
The third morning:
Now there are tears as I recite the Loving Kindness Discourse again and I am surprised by the tears. How the human heart longs for peace. I breathe and soften and open. The pain does not go away but it spreads out, like salt in water. Not just a lump in my heart now but diluted by space, by the ocean of being that I am part of. This is perhaps the real ground of compassion, this vast field of feeling. Swimming through it and not claiming it as only mine. Yesterday's tension dissolves. Yet, the sweet peace of the morning before is tempered, less extravagant and more stable. Here there is an almost dreamlike quality. It seems a trusted voice is whispering, woven into the beating of heart and purling of breath.