I am, whether I realise it or not, always home. I often do not take the time to wean myself off my flappy race from suffering for long enough to notice the immovable and always stable part of me inside. This is what they mean when they say we are already enlightened. The all wise essence is already present. I only need to remember it, and keep remembering till it becomes the place where my attention lies all the time.
Instead I get distracted by life’s events. I can find myself in all kinds of states of dissatisfaction and suffering – fear, stress, anger, sadness…and yet all I have to do is slow right down and remember. Often I choose not to, and there seems to be an attraction to the suffering. Is happiness and peace unacceptable? Yes to the part of me which is habituated to suffering and affliction, to whom it is normal. However I am still at home and cant ever be anywhere else, even if I chose to believe I am lost.
I was really getting used to peace, and it remained for many months, almost constantly. I experienced life very differently during that time. I saw things, heard things in a much wider context and didnt really have much diverging from a position of stability. Then one,two, three, four, five adverse events happened, and I was wobbled. My attention became absorbed in the emotional states I was experiencing. My fight flight brain area was activated, something was wrong wrong wrong it screamed and needed to be fixed. I felt I had fallen down into a well. The walls of life closed in and my perspective narrowed. Life became tinged with a threatening presence of fear. It was easy to go there again, as this is how much of my life had been spent. The old habit was easy to slip into and I have found myself speeding up and racing again through life.
So now, I am starting all over again. ‘And we got to get ourselves back to the garden’ Joni Mitchell sang. Yes indeed. The garden is in here, ready and waiting to be rediscovered.
What to do? Slow. Right. Down. This is tricky and doesn’t feel right if you are in a state of heightened threat stress fear anxiety. To slow right down equates with allowing ourselves to feel all that suffering. Speeding up is the natural way to try and avoid the feelings. Grab this sensation, that experience, have this thought, overanalyze this that the next thing. Run run. But no. Do not run. Stop.
Today I was eating a delicious newly fried french fry from McDonald’s. Normally I gobble these down several at once greedily and the experience of it is practically over before I have even have had a chance to notice how delicious they are. But today I had only one (the bag belonged to someone else). So I bit into it slowly, and made it last. I was doing some mindful eating. I slowed down so much that a whole universe of sensations became apparent. I really enjoyed every second. Next slow bite, slow chew, savour the present moment, no next moment to rush to…after all these few moments with this french fry will be over very soon! Ahhh. So this is my mission for the holidays. Slow. Right. Down.
Then I read this on FB, and see that as soon as I change my approach, the universe adjusts to support me.
“Delight is a secret. And the secret is this: to grow quiet and listen; to stop thinking, stop moving, almost to stop breathing; to create inner stillness in which, like mice in a deserted house, capacities and awarenesses too wayward and too fugitive for everyday use may delicately emerge.
Oh, welcome them home! For these are the long lost children of the human mind. Give them close and loving attention, for they are weakened by centuries of neglect. In return they will open your eyes to a new world within the known world, they will take your hand, as children do, and bring you where life is always nascent, day always dawning.
Suddenly and miraculously, as you walk home in the dark, you are aware of the insubstantial shimmering essence that lies within appearances; the air is filled with expectancy, alive with meaning: the stranger, gliding by in the lamp lit street, carries silently past you in the night the whole mystery of his life…..”
Alan McGlashan, The Savage and Beautiful Country