For several days in a row, I felt an irritation of sorts, an unsatisfactoriness. My husband was getting the brunt of it. Across those days, I returned to the inquiry, “What is this?”, and each time, I released the question and moved on with my day…
Yesterday morning, it was very quiet when I woke up -- others asleep, the space within our home mostly to myself. Before I sat, I did the dishes I’d avoided the night before and then settled on the couch, Lucy our Beagle beside me and Scout our daughter's cat, climbing in and out of my lap as if to entice Lucy in some way. Slowly, my eyes closed, feeling Scout’s fur as she kept climbing over me, keeping one hand on Lucy’s back as she warily watched Scout.
I went to Red Bird… Some might say Red Bird’s a figment of my imagination. Others might call her my Buddah-nature, or my Higher Self, or True Awareness, or that part of myself so deep inside, it has only my highest good as its sole intent… I call Red Bird my Guide, one of my spiritual teachers. She is the first guide I ever met, and she taught me about boundaries -- something I was woefully loose with before I met her. I came to meet Red Bird when I was on a self-retreat and I had a lot of healing to do. Each morning of that retreat I went into the empty Meditation Hall and I lay down and meditated… I brought myself into a beautiful field, and there was Red Bird… at first, I don’t think I really understood what she was to me. But she kept showing up during my sits giving me teachings, and throughout the years, she has been a guide of compassion to me, showing me how to hold difficult feelings and so much more. Red Bird taught me what happens when I don’t listen to my own need for boundaries. Through her communication to me and countless times, she has held and protected me. Through years, I have grown to deeply trust her, which is really another way of saying I’ve learned to trust myself, to trust my experience. Not such a little feat for a person who grew up not knowing what or whom to trust.
So I digress… back to yesterday morning… Yesterday morning, I asked Red Bird to show me what this irritation and unsatisfactoriness was that I’ve been feeling… and what came to me as I saw myself laying down in the field where I often meet her, in such a caring manner, Red Bird cradled me… I cradled myself… I held myself, Red Bird held me… and showed me what I was feeling wasn’t irritation, it was sadness… and then the tears flowed, and as Lucy sat next to me, and Scout kept climbing in and out of my lap, more tears flowed, the morning sun shined brightly through the window in front of me. I’d open my eyes and look out the at my favorite tree, the tears would dry, and then I’d go back inward again, back to being held, back to holding myself, and more tears would drop…
And then it was done… as quickly as it began… I sat with gratitude for the clear seeing, the relief that Jack would no longer inadvertently receive something that wasn’t his… relief to be able to witness and be with sadness and also to feel it pass. So very grateful for this practice and the trust that’s developed.
There are endless doorways into mindfulness, into clear seeing. I don’t always go to Red Bird -- often, my sitting practice feels like me being aware of body sensation, wandering mind and coming back to body sensation… but sometimes, when something feels too big for me to carry on my own, that’s when I go to Red Bird, and what she reminds me is she is there for me whenever I remember she’s there… I am there for myself whenever I remember I’m there…
I feel a sense of dis-ease… I’ve felt it for several weeks now… I can feel the desire to push it away, to know what it is, to explain it.
This is my ego wanting a “hit”, wanting an easy fix, an easy out.
The practice of contemplation tells me to be patient, to feel into the body, to trust that I don’t have to know right in this minute.
My teacher tells me that it can take years for some wounds to unwind, is that really true? Do I have to be patient for that long? What if I can’t take it? It’s sort of like a scab that’s healing on a cut, do I let it be and let it heal, or do I pick at it? I know what is right, and I know what is tempting.
And then I breathe.
And then I feel.
And then I know, I can hold off for a bit, I can allow myself to get to know this dis-ease.
The inquiry is simply stated. It isn’t fancy, I just keep asking myself, “What is this dis-ease I feel?” Sometimes I ask it before I go to bed. Sometimes I ask it before I “sit”, sometimes I ask it while I’m walking the dogs… Nobody answers me yet. Usually that’s okay, and sometimes it’s not.
If I have to explain what this dis-ease feels, it’s still such a new awareness to me, we’re like two people sizing each other up, trying to figure out if the other means well or not, trying to figure out whether to trust the other or not. Sometimes, it feels like a cavern in my stomach. Other times, it feels like constriction in my chest with a quickening of the heart at the same time. Just moments ago, it felt like a question in the mind, and for a moment I thought I had it all figured out and I could feel the excitement of the thrill of the chase! And then I remembered, “Oh yes, that was just the Ego, wanting its easy fix. Settle down, you don’t have to know the answer to this one yet”.
Sometimes this dis-ease feels like a puzzle piece with both of us trying to find out where it belongs. I feel as though it’s looking for its home, and it’s looking to be witnessed, to be known. A part of me deeply wants to give it that, that’s the part of me who knows patience will pay off, knows trusting the process and allowing dis-ease the room it needs will allow for trust to develop. That is the part of me who knows I don’t have to know in this exact minute, I’m okay and there’s nothing wrong.
I have to say, it’s quite a pain though. Dis-ease doesn’t care I want to get a full night’s sleep, and when it wakes me at 3am, it’s harder for me to feel awake throughout my day. In that way, it feels very young, like a child who wants what she wants when she wants it, and I should give it to her. I have to laugh, because I know I could fight it, but have you ever tried fighting yourself to get back to sleep? For me, I always lose, so it’s easier to simply be with dis-ease in the middle of the night, in the darkness under my comfy weighted blanket, and allow it to be known, allow it room to breathe, to be witnessed. I can do that for a bit, and then the strangest thing seems to happen. Dis-ease settles back, like she’s been seen, and she can rest, and thankfully, I can too.
Me and Dis-ease are doing this dance together, and some days I wonder how long it will be until the dance finishes, or what it will look like when we get to the end of the song. That still, quiet place within me senses if I allow Dis-ease to take its time, it will be worth it.
Deep knowing is on the other side.
Healing is on the other side.
Understanding is on the other side.
This is the practice.
I keep looking for the ribbon I can tie around the package making it look nice and neat and pretty, although I have to admit that I’ve never been very good at that.
This is trust, this is enough, this is the reality of the moment. I am getting to know Dis-ease. She is slow-to-warm-up, just like my oldest daughter was when she was a baby. And in these still, quiet moments, I know this is the path, and I will continue to make my way, unfinished, still walking, still waiting, still listening.