Sunday, November 4, 2012

Knees to the floor

{a recurring series, a post between friends, inspired by a mini-meditation retreat led by Karen Maezen Miller. we are grateful she showed up.}

In keeping with an idea, our pact of sorts to explore the unknown together, I headed out early to Clair's house this morning for meditation. 

Greeted by candlelight,

and the coziest of woodstoves in the outbuiling, the hunting shack, the writer's den, the cave, the quiet haven, I could have stayed all day and afternoon.

I was in desperate need of peace and calm, this the morning after the day that had landed me in bed with a head aching so I barely realized my husband had put the kids to bed at 9 p.m.  Not only had I attended a day-long stressful event for my son with two girls in tow but I hadn't taken the time to sit before it all started and I was off.  Really off.  Stumbling and bumbling, fumbling over my words off.  Friends old and new were casualties (sorry, Maureen, you were one!) whether they realized it or not as my brain short-circuited throughout the course of the day.

The topic of meditation came up at one point, I had let a friend read my blog and she asked me what it was all about.  I opened my mouth to form the words but none would come.  Nothing that seemed to satisfy her anyway.  I felt her blank look, I judged myself.  Just what is it we're doing?

I wanted to ask her if she'd ever had a problem.  A really big one.  Not like the kind where you don't get the car you want for your sixteenth birthday or your husband doesn't give you flowers on your anniversary but one that leaves you feeling lost, alone, forgotten, unloved, or maybe it's something you've agonized over your whole life without even knowing it because all you've ever felt like was a big failure and a freak, flawed, not worthy and it was all your fault.  Hadn't she ever struggled with trying to make sense of the nonsense, amisdt the crazy making that makes more crazy?  Had she ever been hollowed out by pain so old and deep and left with less than what she had when she came into the world and just wanted to get it back? Anything back? Had she ever been there?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

This is what Karen calls the fire that sits atop one's head, the very same fire that often leads one to meditation.  I'm there.

But yesterday, none of those words came.  I was blank.  I told my friend about the breathing, the sitting, the knees to the floor securely in mountain pose, spine aligned, the calm, the peaceful place from which to begin the day.  Maybe that was enough.

At the bookstore today I read of zen described this way:  as the discovery of something that already exists, much like the sculptor sees the statue emerge from a rough chunk of stone (loosesly paraphrased from "The Way of Zen" by Alan Watts, I have it on order.)

And after these weeks of dousing the fire daily, of breathing, of stillness, I find I'm letting go of things that don't belong, and welcoming in those that do.  For now, that is my best answer.  And I am awake tonight to tuck in my children.

We are told that life is suffering and I would agree.  I just don't want mine to be about suffering.  That is the best I have to offer.


Julie said...

So beautifully written...the stress of everyday life and our struggle to express ourselves authentically to others (and ourselves). With two young children and a husband who frequently travels, I am SO THERE.

Love the pictures of the fire in the wood stove. I miss our lovely red wood stove in Virginia. Gas fireplaces just aren't the same.

I hope you have a better week coming up, headache free.

Julie said...

Also, wanted to mention that I'm reading your friend Clair's blog too. I'm enjoying reading about some of the same things as told by such different personalities. I haven't commented on her blog (yet!) because I'm already feeling a bit stalker-ish since I don't know either of you. :) But I assure you, I'm harmless!

amy said...

Thank you, Julie and comment away! I'm sure Clair would love it just the same as I do. We're all friends here.