The practice, for me, is really the moment to moment experience of living this life. Yes, a critical component of this is always meditation. But meditation is only twenty or thirty minutes out of every twenty-four hours. This leaves a lot of time for things to go awry. And there is nary a day that things don’t go as planned, with some days being much more challenging than others.
The practice is what helps me maintain a presence as things come and go, accepting them as they are, and not clinging to the past moment or reaching for the next. However, even my practice does not always go as planned.
Life can throw all of us curve balls, and the unexpected can sometimes be so powerful and unsettling that the practice seems useless. Today is one of those days for me.
Even sitting on the cushion is a nauseating thought for me. I am fully aware of what I will be sitting with, or more realistically, who I will be sitting with. I can see that I am clearly not happy with me, my situation, my inability to fix everything. Helpless, hopeless, anxious, frustrated, confused, and disappointed. That’s the person that I will have to come face-to-face with when I sit on the cushion. And who wants to be with that person right!
Perhaps this moment has the potential to be one of my best moments. A trial by fire so to speak.
Being well, happy and peaceful, when life is going your way is not much of a challenge. But having skillfulness when your World is turned upside down is perhaps a golden opportunity. A chance to practice what I preach and love myself when I need it the most. And in doing so, perhaps also offering others an example of all the things that this practice makes available to each one of us.
In all honestly, these are all just nice flowery words at this moment. I do not feel that I am being an example to anyone right now. And it does feel as though there is some self-pity happening as well. I cannot just make my difficulties go away, and feeling bad about them does not make me feel any better. I really have no choice but to be with them, to be with myself and my mind. Observing the stories that come and go at a breakneck speed. With the one thing holding me together being gratitude. Gratitude for my Family, my amazing friends, my beautiful home and all the comforts it allows me. I could go on for paragraphs about all of the blessings I have in my life. And there really is no difficulty in the World that diminishes that one tiny bit. This is where I see that I need to plant my feet. This is as unshakable as the Buddha, the dhamma and the sangha. It’s as solid and real as the Four Noble Truths. I can clearly see that even if I was on my deathbed, I can refuge in these truths. This to me is truly the practice. The practice is the path, the experience, the reality of everything.
Which leaves me with just one thing to do now. Go and sit with that man in the mirror. Wish me luck!