If we have a living clarity about the roots that nourish us, we can find our way home.
We experience a constant flow of thoughts, sense impressions, wishes, worries, duties, and much more. Usually our days involve a full to-do list and additional unexpected challenges. We may find that we wake up with a tension that doesn’t leave us, even during and after a vacation. Our thoughts circle around our daily challenges and we can’t find the time or mood to take short relaxing breaks.
This is what it’s like to live between hope and fear. We hope everything will be alright and we fear it will not. There’s a lot of movement in this type of living; we constantly find ourselves moving towards some things and away from others. We might find it difficult to even imagine living with less yes and no, good and bad, right and wrong. We can hardly imagine that things could be different: because obviously, good is good and bad is bad, isn’t it?
Another way to speak about this is that we are used to living in polarities: one thing we want and another thing we don’t want. We like to avoid what we think is unpleasant and we strive to always make the best choice, believing we can cause our happiness. Sometimes this sort of works and at other times it doesn’t. But this life way certainly can become our dominant life experience.
Even so, we can learn to live from another place, a place where we allow ourselves to trust in life more, where we dare to meet whatever comes our way with more courage and curiosity. When we do find our way to this place, we find that we are caring for ourselves in a new way. Instead of moving from where we are in an attempt to free ourselves or gain a better position, instead we experiment with waiting to see the judgments that are below our wish to move or to grasp. Rather than moving ourselves, we start to become aware of what is already moving; and this change of habit is experienced as opening into spaciousness and an enlivening of our senses.
For example, we can approach sensation in a fresh way. Take one that you don’t like very much and just sense it and observe it with curiosity. Maybe you will discover a story spun around it, and a history of trying to get rid of it. Instead of following that impulse, you can notice exactly what you are sensing and thinking and allow your curiosity to develop around these observations. The most obvious fact we can notice is that our sensations, thoughts, and feelings are continuously changing; but there is much to recognize and learn there.
Within a mind that is basically trusting and interested, the river of outer and inner experience can flow just as it is. As an inner reference in this flow, we can come back to the rhythm of our own breathing and rest there for a moment. Though we might be moved and distracted by thoughts and feelings, as soon as we notice “what is” again, the river of our authentic changing experience flows on.
If this river moves through a life that has come to know, next to all the busyness and struggle, a measure of peace and confidence, then it’s as if something new and unexpected has become available. Trust, interest, peace, confidence, curiosity—these are like nourishing roots. Or like the trees of an oasis lining a river flowing in the desert. Rather than being swept away, they are fed by the water, and their fruit feeds other living things.
The nourishment of peace, confidence, and curiosity makes of our very normal daily life a meditative practice. We are the flow of experience that streams along, here and there in rapids. We notice what “is” in the different moments and learn to trust that we can respond to whatever shows up. In this way we get to know our own inner home, the warmth, spaciousness, tendencies and events within our own mind. The better we get to know this river and the calmer and kinder we can respond to whatever we find within ourselves, the easier we can stay within our inner balance, or find our way back there. Our roots are there, an oasis is growing.
With time we can look back upon many experiences that at first might have been frightening, but later revealed themselves even to be helpful. More and more we can find a kind of confidence that this might be true for future experiences and challenges, too. Many large and loud emotions have passed through and an inner continuum has experienced them and found its inner calm once again.
In this process we notice how helpful it is to cultivate a calm observing mind and to stay connected to our grounding bodily sensations. These are meditative skills. The sensations of our body, our breathing, and the calm observation of our experience are the stable ground on which acceptance and good responses to “what is” can grow. Having experienced and trained this within formal meditation, we can continue with a similar mindset within our uncontrollable, busy, and sometimes confusing daily life.
Within the clear boundaries of our priorities, our orientation, and our meditative skills, we can experience the flow of all that is happening and find our own peace and balance again and again. A mode like this allows for a positive outlook, authenticity, and confidence in what we do and how we move in our world and respond to the many situations we find ourselves in. Very simply:
- We can allow again and again for moments in which we let go of any doing and just rest.
- We can open to our environment and then notice how it touches our body, how we breathe, what we feel and sense.
- We can allow ourselves to come home within ourselves and enjoy the calm, comfort, and stillness that are there if we don’t do, but just are.
- We can deepen this experience by sensing the effects it has within us.
Merely noticing the effects, we can feel nourished. Again and again we can come back to this inner home whenever we find a moment to do so.
This is what I wish for you,