Still working on that relationship with myself. One practice I continue daily is the loving-kindness meditation. It differs only a little from my normal breath meditation in that when I realize my mind is “thinking” I bring it back to compassionate thoughts about myself. I send myself love. That’s pretty much it.
Judging myself, blaming myself, feeling shame … these were all normal states of mind for me for a very long time. I didn’t even know I was doing it and, at various stages of my life, I blocked them from full realization with the usual suspects: food, sex, drugs, alcohol, denial.
I used to hide from pain, suffering and fear. I figured life is short, let’s take our pleasures while we can. It seemed the obvious way to go. And I still don’t like unpleasant emotions, but I finally recognize that they lie in wait, just under the surface of my skin, and will only grow stronger if they are not acknowledged and allowed to move through my body in the present moment.
Spiritual maturity, says Jack Kornfeild, allows us to “rest in the wonder of life.” And spiritual maturity is what I’m working on now that I have that age maturity thing happening. I want to leave this planet gently with awareness, not in fear and dis-ease.
Ever notice that disease kinda has a second meaning?
Most of my health problems (all minor, thank stars) can be traced directly back to things like anxiety and fear. You get older, you start to see patterns. So now I’m learning to treat myself with kindness instead of guilt, shame, blame, fear, or judgment. Life is just too short not to know myself fully in all my perfect imperfection. “Touch with mercy the parts of ourselves we have denied, cut off, or isolated,” Kornfeild advises.
His method includes patience, a thing I have long been short on. Meditation helps me learn patience, so does listening, so does yoga. Mindfulness to each task at the moment it is undertaken brings patience. This is a tough one for me, but I want the harmony patience brings. I want “a loving, patient unfolding into the mystery just now.” Living this way stretches time, too, because there’s less distraction.
Not to get all serious. In present-moment mindfulness, in spiritual maturity, in practicing compassion (that’s Kuan Yin, goddess of compassion in the frame up top) there is fun, there is humor, there is play. Wherever I am, I want to respond and relate with deeper joy. At least that’s the plan. I’ll let you know how it goes:)