You know that saying about enjoying the journey? I have never really understood it, until the other day. But to tell the whole story, I have to back track a bit first.
I was at a meditation workshop and one of the exercises was to walk really, really, fast. Luckily we were in a school yard so there was lots of room. So I was walking very fast and noticing that I was feeling very important. I clearly had somewhere I had to be and I didn’t have time for anything else. When we came back in and reflected upon it, I realized that I often walk briskly and often pass people and I have asked myself where I am I going to in such a hurry. And of course, I’m going nowhere that is time dependent. But I realize that I am in a hurry to get there and when I’ve completed the task at hand, I’m I a hurry to get home. And it doesn’t make any sense except from this class I realize that I feel important and everyone likes to feel important, right? When I was thinking about the exercise and watching myself go so fast, I had to laugh at how ridiculous it was. I cold see myself as a kid marching off somewhere feeling very important indeed. And here I am now as an adult rushing off to get more bread or whatever the reason and it suddenly seemed so comical to be rushing around for no real reason. And I wondered if after having this chuckle at myself, I might stop taking myself so seriously and just slow down.
So the other day when I was walking to or from somewhere, I again noticed how quickly I was walking. So clearly the meditation exercise did not stick with me for very long. And I said to myself, can you slow down and enjoy the journey? And I thought wait a minute, is that what they mean? That our lives take us here and there to do this or that and if we are able to slow down and enjoy the view, then we can add some pleasure to our day. And it might just be a moment but a life time of moments can add up to not such a bad life after all. I mean isn’t it this multitude of moments of small pleasures that do make our day more pleasant. Perhaps somebody opens to door for us or gives us a how do you do, or the bird sings as we go by or the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and the warmth of the sun makes us smile. These are the things that at the end of the day you can say, yeah that was a good day.
I’m sure now that is what they mean by enjoying the journey and I’m glad that I have finally gotten to understand it.
Initially, when I found myself walking fast a part of me asked myself can you enjoy the journey? it was a conscious choice to tell myself this is a peaceful moment and to look around and slow down. Then when I asked myself that question and I simply answered yes. And now when I am walking quickly, I ask myself, can you enjoy the journey? and I feel myself slow down my pace, I take a big in breath and I look around at the beauty that lies before me and it’s a peaceful moment. It feels like a more integrated, less conscious choice. And hopefully the next stage will be to continue to be in the moment, with peace.
I notice that I’ve been living in the future with a lot of uncertainty, worry and fear. It is not a pleasant place to be and yet over and over again that’s where I find myself. The longer I stay there the more it becomes hopelessness and helplessness, which is an even more unpleasant place to be. So, eventually, I asked myself what are the techniques I have used to get out of this place and I remember ‘this is a peaceful moment’. I must say I am shocked and delighted at how well this works, every time. I feel myself take a breath, my shoulders relax, I feel the tension slip away. Sometimes, before I know it I am back there again. Sometimes, I remember quickly, other times it takes me longer. I recognize that it is a choice and I choose the peaceful moment. I remind myself that it’s a practice and the important thing is that I continue to practice.
I’m struggling in my meditation practice these days. My mind is not settled and this may sound like a bad thing but for me it means I’m at an exciting point in my practice. For me, meditation is about getting to know myself deeply and intimately. So when my mind is not settled, its time for exploration off the mat. At this time continuing to sit on the mat for longer will only lead to frustration. My mind is offering me a gift. It’s telling me something is up that requires my full attention and openheartedness. This is the time when I will go to art. I will ask my younger self what materials it wants to work with drawing material, paper, construction paper, tissues paper, collage. The list goes on and on and I ask until I get a positive response. It’s like the part of me that needs attention isn’t always able to say what it wants, so offering suggestions is useful. And once that is decided, I sit quietly and observe my feelings and watch what comes out onto the paper. Sometimes preparing to touch this place will bring me to tears and I will get information about the current struggle. Other times I will notice my mind desperately search for something else to think about, anything else, everything else, and this is when I need to be more persistent and patient. I remind myself that I am safe, that I am here, and open to feeling the feelings. It’s hard work. Ther is no doubt about that, however, not doing the work only makes things more messier. The relief that comes when I am able to move the feeling is definitely worth it.
I stood in the freezing rain, wind blowing, being completely miserable about having to wait for the bus which, of course, was late and bemoaning having to be out on a day like this and suddenly I heard myself say “This is a peaceful moment.” and my sarcastic self replied, “Well, it could be.” And then I thought about it and I realized that it wasn’t life threatening. I was lucky that there is a bus to take me where I want to go. And that I will survive this. Later when I was thinking about it, I thought this is life. It is full of all kinds of inconveniences and I get to choose how I live my life. And I did. I chose to change my perspective and see the glass as half full and this made a world of difference. I was also pleased that not only did my meditation practise come to me, but that, after my typical reaction, I chose to think differently. I want to have a peaceful life and I can. It doesn’t mean that the weather will always co-operate with what I have on my agenda each day. It doesn’t mean that things will just be smooth and always go my way. What it does mean, is that when things don’t go exactly as hoped for, I can decide to be peaceful about it. I can choose to be calm and breathe and take what I’ve been practising on the mat and apply it to my everyday life. The great thing is that the universe will keep supplying you with more and more opportunities to practise, if you will eventually get it. If that’s what you choose.
I tell myself, “just let it go”. And I do know it would be a useful thing to do and I really try to do it, I want to do it but it isn’t easy. I don’t even know how to do it. How do you just let go? When I try its sticky, like gum on the bottom of my shoe, it’s hard to get off. It takes work. It seems like people think it’s something tangible like a knapsack that you can literally take off your back and put down. But it’s not like that. So, I breath, I meditate, I visualize a shower of golden liquid light that will wash it all away. But then the next thing I notice I still have a hold of it, or it of me. And it occurs then to me that’d perhaps there is some wisdom in this thing that I am holding on to and that perhaps I need to investigate, do some emotional work around whatever this is. My go to is art. I use my non-dominant hand, in my case that’s my left hand because it helps access the younger parts of me. I often use oil pastels because they are more fluid and this helps the emotions flow. Sometimes I use crayons because I sometimes like to really work hard at getting the color down. Often while I am doing art, I will start to cry as I get in touch with the blocked emotions. Sometimes, I begin to cry before I’ve even started and other times it may happen a couple of days later when I come back to revisit it. And the crying is the good news, it is a sure sign of releasing that emotion, so go with it for as long as you can. This is success. If I feel I need to I will ask questions of myself, like why did you use that color there, or what does that shape mean? I do this is the softest most gentlest way I can, with curiosity and it’s often very interesting.
I find all this helps in letting go, but I won’t kid you it’s not easy. It’s hard work but it’s very worthwhile even necessary work, painful but freeing. I find it helps me become a more peaceful version of myself.
P.S. I wonder what would change if I said “let it go”? It seems to soften, like there isn’t anything I need to do about it, except accept it. I think the work around it is still important, however, it seems kinder.
This year I started something I’ve never done before. I have a gratitude box. The idea is that everyday I write down one thing I am grateful for. It could be something that happened, it could be something I did, something I said. It could be the weather. Anything really. So the reality of it is that I don’t do it everyday. What happens is that once in a while I get on a roll and write several things, so in fact it works out to once a day but I’m a bit of a perfectionist so this isn’t ok with me. I’d like it to be my everyday practise. This is another thing that I can let go of. There seems to be endless opportunities to let go.
So my struggle today is that while I have something to write, I’m hesitating because part of this experiment is to, at the end of the year, read through all the things I found to be grateful for and as I think about this now I think about what it will be like to read it in December because whatever the outcome is, it will affect how I feel about what I did, which was to ask for what I wanted. And so this gets me thinking how the outcome can influence my feeling of gratitude for asking. For me this is progress, growing up asking anything even a question was not met with praise. It was seen as an attack on the authority and this was not permitted. So my willingness to challenge my childhood teaching about asking, is what I am grateful for and to let go of my attachment to the outcome. It is in the asking that I grow. The next time that I need to ask it will not be such a foreign concept. Each time I ask it will get easier. For now, it is a conscious choice and in writing this I can see more clearly how it really is important to write down these moments of progress and to celebrate them and let the outcome be what it is. So thank you blog. I need to go and write that down…..
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