Like the river

Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible. — Sogyal Rinpoche

It’s been 8 months since I’ve shared any words here.  Last year, 2018, was a year of movement. All aspects of my life shifted and rearranged themselves. I met Ryan in January (we celebrated our one year of knowing one another on January 5th), I moved from the Near Eastside of Indianapolis to the northwest part of the city near the IMA and Crown Hill Cemetery, I had multiple job changes – that would take me a whole blog post to explain – and I got sick for about a month in September, which really kicked my butt.

Recently I haven’t been feeling like myself. Maybe it’s the aftermath of a bunch of changes, maybe it’s because I haven’t felt 100% well after I got sick in September. Maybe it’s because I have such a specific vision for my life that I am so eager to make a reality and I’m not quite living it out yet. I guess in some ways I am, and in other ways I have a long way to go. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been doing any consistent exercise or yoga, which has always helped me feel strong and alive. Maybe it’s because I haven’t really been producing much writing or art. Maybe it’s all the things I have on my mind that are weighing so heavily on my constantly tight shoulders. There are a lot of things it could be.

One time in therapy I heard the mindfulness meditation about the river. As thoughts enter your mind, you picture them as leaves or twigs floating down a river. “Just let them pass. Don’t judge them, don’t analyze them.” Today, after our daily walk, the two babies I nanny and I walked down to the river that sits at the end of the backyard. With one baby strapped to my front and the other baby lying in the stroller, I stared into the river. All the snow melted from this morning’s warm rain so the river was full and the current was moving quickly. Large chunks of trees, debris, and other natural and unnatural things were bobbing down effortlessly with the water. I stood there and watched. As I watched, I noticed that as I saw an object coming toward me in the water, I began thinking about one of the hundreds of things on my mind. Softly, I whispered to the river, the babies might’ve been listening too, my weighty concerns:

I’m fatigued. I feel apathetic. I can’t seem to find spaciousness within. I feel hard-hearted and closed off. I sense uneasiness and restlessness. I am too sensitive and wish I had thicker skin. Why do I keep getting sick? I feel weak, I used to be strong. I feel moody and like I bring people down. I think I complain too much. Am I disappointing the ones I love over and over again? Will I ever do all the things right? Make everyone feel loved? I see who I want to be and I feel so far off from being that person.

The river listened to me. She was good company, taking my thoughts downstream, bringing other thoughts forth in the right timing. Coming and going, passing by, temporarily present, then gone. This meditation had a profound effect on me with a visual aid. I walked inside the house with the babies feeling a lot lighter. I long to find the “spaciousness within” that all the gurus and great teachers and wise thinkers speak about. That inner peace, inner silence, inner universe. I need to find it. To stay connected to God in this way, as my Source of Peace, is the only way I will live this life fully and openly. I long to rid myself of my prideful and high maintenance ego and love myself, my True Self, embedded in the core of God. Like the river, I want to listen compassionately and flow effortlessly with the Source of Life.

Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible. Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature. Think of your ordinary emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation. Let peace work on you and enable you to gather your scattered mind into the mindfulness of Calm Abiding, and awaken in you the awareness and insight of Clear Seeing. And you will find all your negativity disarmed, your aggression dissolved, and your confusion evaporating slowly like mist into the vast and stainless sky of your absolute nature.

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

 

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