Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tapping into that bright joy

We've had glorious weather here the last couple of days, and I've been rising at 5:30 (I think the light wakes me) to be greeted by this lovely crescent moon, which hovers above the water, perfectly centered in my kitchen window. So I feed and inoculate the dog (who's diabetic); feed and medicate the cats (one's asthmatic); feed the fish and then walk out onto the deck with my camera, trying to hold it still enough to get a shot of the moon before the fog (you can see it rising here) obscures it.

It seems to me that the contemplative life -- so far, at least -- is always a bit like that: periods of business, ritual and routine with fleeting breaks of peace and beauty that you try to capture, always working against time and the elusive fog created by constant activity. It's sort of the opposite of sailing, which my husband loves to say is large periods of boredom occasionally punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

My particular form of meditation is Centering Prayer, which means that, though we have a sacred word or mantra, the goal is not to repeat it constantly but simply to use it as a means of returning to center. It works, I think, a bit like the moon. I think of the moon in this picture as a sort of OM: steady and bright, quiet, always present whether we see it or not -- and that little point of light is exactly what the picture needs. If I could carry the consciousness of that OM throughout my day, would it not be a way of calling me back to center when I get off track?

I was thinking of this last night in my improv class -- which went way better this week -- and realizing that in a way the gift of the class is precisely what I need: to teach me that the OM is always there -- rather like the moon -- even if I don't see it. Because it is those moments when our minds (what our instructor calls our "planning minds") go blank and we are at a loss for what to say that he applauds and says "Yes! Yes! That's IT!" -- because he has absolute faith that when the planning mind gives up that what will come forth will be magical.

He actually has this funny hand motion where he puts his thumb on the back of his head and wiggles his fingers like a coxcomb on a particularly crazy rooster and says in this funny squawky voice, "I got nothin', I got nothin" -- mimicking the planning mind in a state of panic. But it's clear he is teaching us to welcome that moment, because that's the point where (though he doesn't exactly say it this way) we get to tap into this huge well of creativity: it's all about letting go and allowing the pure, joyful and brilliant spirit within us to do the work.

I so appreciate this reminder that that spirit is always there, even when the waters aren't calm and tranquil or the fog of busyness makes it hard to see. The sacred word, the moon, my instructor's goofy hand motion -- all serve as symbols to remind me that however crazy life gets, however frantic the voice in my head becomes, I always have the option to stop, if only for a moment, and tap into that bright joy that's always present at the center of being.

3 comments:

Jan said...

I like the thought that the "om" is always there. To remember that. . . to KNOW it is what I desire.

kimquiltz said...

I find myself constantly avoiding reading anything on your blog to do with meditation. I scan your text and see the word and think "oh dear, here we go again" and try desperately to put off reading it until later (though I eventually do read it).

And it's not for the reasons that are probably flitting through your mind right now. It's because I really, really want to try meditation, but I'm too scared to start. I'm not sure how I feel about admitting that, but there it is, it's done.

I'm really feeling the call to it, but (and I already know that it's stupid to say it, but...) what if I don't do it right? What if I'm bad at it? What if I just sit there and feel stupid?

I'm counting on your being able to relate and pointing me in the right direction...is there a book I need to get? or...?

altar ego said...

First: love the photo--the composition, the colors, the content...

Second: I think you have just opened the door for me about why I get "stuck" in the creative process. It hasn't occurred to me to stop and seek the center. Oddly enough when I face a difficulty elsewhere in life I stop to pray. Well, duh!! Same song, different verse, but stopping to pray has never failed to scatter the clutter and allow the essential to rise to the fore.

I'm like Kim, though, in the meditation arena. How, exactly, is this done? What if it doesn't work? Although I think I've avoided it for different reasons, the fact remains that I've avoided it.

Creativity is too essential to my being to treat that part of my soul so shabbily, but I confess it here.

I will try to be mindful, now that it is in my consiousness, of at least attempting to get off the stuck wheel in the future. Maybe I'll be lucky and God will lead me where I need to go.

I truly believe that she had a hand in leading me to you.