Friday, October 19, 2007

I am a drop in the ocean of now

My last post was written (as usual) in my office, which is in my husband's closet. But this time he was there, as well, getting ready to leave for work, asking questions and engaging in casual chatter. When I went back later in the day to look at the post, I realized that in one paragraph (and I remember it was the one I was trying to write while he was in and out of the closet) I must have used the word "this" about 7 times.

Why all the "this's"? I suspect I was trying to draw my own attention back to the subject at hand; an effort, however subconscious at the time, to regain control of the situation. The sad thing is that when I posted the blog I was completely unaware of this flaw; it wasn't until later, looking at the post from outside the situation, that I noticed the problem.

Thinking about all that this morning, I remembered that when I told a friend about the subject of that post, she immediately asked if it was about letting go of control. And I realized the word control hadn't even entered the post. But certainly the ACT of control did -- you can tell from all those this's. I didn't know I was doing that, but it was perfectly clear from the outside.

Which I think is how control issues OFTEN work. We spend much of our lives trying to control our situations, maintain security or status quo, keep our own agendas running. And we think we're being totally subtle about that, because we're so caught up in it. But from the outside it can often be painfully obvious; in fact, in those rare moments when we CAN step outside ourselves, we, too, can see those pitiful efforts at control, and it can be downright embarrassing.

Which brings me back to something I read a day or two ago in Pema Chodron's "Comfortable With Uncertainty." She claims that meditation gives us an opportunity to do just that: to step outside ourselves and watch the thoughts roll in. Pleasant or unpleasant, embarrassing or foolish, the thoughts keep arising. If we can learn to just watch them and let them go; if we can be compassionate with our own embarrassing foolishness, that in turn enhances our ability to be compassionate with the embarrassing foolishness of others.

As I sat in my chair, pondering this, I realized at the same time that much of my meditation practice up to this point has been centered in some point OUTSIDE my self. Everytime I let a thought go, I would re-focus, but not inward, rather, I would move my attention back to some invisible horizon -- I suspect it has been a way of ensuring I would not get too caught up in my own "stuff". But what if, instead, I returned to my OWN center (somewhere in the region of my heart, not my head)? (and why is it that I am SO SLOW in figuring these things out?) (Ah, Little Cricket, another opportunity to practice compassion on yourself).

For the remainder of my practice today I chose to return to my own center -- wherever that might be, without trying to visualize it or project anything onto it -- and I realized that a lot of my earlier struggles trying to integrate the horizontal and vertical axes were considerably eased. And once the compassionate gaze could rest tenderly upon my own center, the waves of tenderness and compassion could radiate outward to all of creation as naturally and peacefully as the ripples radiate out from a drop in water.

Ah, I see: I am a drop in the ocean of now.

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