Tomorrow I am participating in a Global Meditation for Compassion.
I just signed up.
I am new to meditation. My husband has been practicing it for awhile but I just didn’t get it. I would fall asleep or spend the time thinking about thinking which would lead to insane thoughts about myself and my limitations or I would make excuses for why it didn’t work for me. My body would shift uncomfortably and eventually I would lie down and tell myself that I should be doing something more productive. (Yes, something more productive than breathing.)
I finally have reached a meditation practice that works for me. In fact, it works now for me because I don’t approach it the same way I’ve historically approached all challenges in my life – guns blazing with a must-do-must-finish attitude, forcing my will on the situation. I can do it now because I approach it with a sense of humour. A lightness. And a softness.
Here’s an illustration.
At yesterday’s sunrising, there wasn’t an actual “sunrise.”
The sky gradually became lighter and lighter – a soft glowing just beyond and above the clouds. When the sky is clear, the sun rises and bam! You are hit with that bright light emitting warmth directly onto you. A cloudy morning can sometimes be a more gentle welcome. It is a more gradual easing in.
This is what meditation has become for me – a softening. There is no bam! Enlightenment! Bam! Peace! It really is just me showing up. It is a practice in compassion – for myself and a gift to myself.
This brings me to my quotes in my Book of Hours today:
These quotes are two sides of the same coin. Being friends with myself means to be kind and gentle enough to endure “annihilation” over and over again – to laugh at my own missteps. It means to forgive myself for mean and nasty thoughts, words, and actions. It means to actually not try to change or want to change anything but to just watch myself be myself.
There is a sanskrit term called “maitri” which I recently discovered. It means “unlimited friendliness.”
Imagine being friendly with ourselves? Being as soft and kind to ourselves as we are with our children? With our family? And what if that is the first step to expanding compassion – spiralling it outward from unlimited friendliness to your own self.
This is compassion in its most basic form: Be kind to yourself.
When I meditate, I am a gentle spectator. I watch my emotions rise and fall with the many thoughts that flit through my mind. I occasionally remember to breathe. I laugh at myself when I forget or when I worry about my knees hurting while I am sitting. I smile when I start to think about logistics or my to-dos.
This observing without judgement, without reproach, without guilt, gives me enough space to soften. It’s like that point where the water reaches the shore and is about to retreat back. This almost invisible exhale – where the shore and the water blend. It’s a moment to be kind enough to give yourself a break from your own dramatic saga.
Recently, I was struggling with a challenge and I wrote about it in my morning pages. I wrote questions asking for help and guidance. And immediately, I wrote these three words:
Learn to stay.
Stop trying to rationalize and defend. Stop trying to escape. Stop trying to fight and attack. Stop beating myself up over and over again. Just stay. Stay and breathe. Stay in the emotion. Stay and be annihilated. Stay in the crazy. Stay and feel it all. Stay there until there is enough space to soften, in between the shore and the water because this is the place where I need to be.
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.