Monday, May 25, 2009

A chicken and egg problem

It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem: I've had a sort of topsy-turvy week, and as a result my meditation periods have been very unfocused.

Or is it that my meditations this week -- many of which have been broken up, or sandwiched in at odd times of day -- have been pretty unfocused, so I've felt a bit off-kilter all week?

It's hard to know which came first, but what I do know is that this morning there was some sort of minor shift and the meditation fell back into place: it was almost as if I could breathe again.

The difference was so immediate and so obvious that I found myself thinking of the time we spent on our neighbors' deck two nights ago. They have three rocking chairs and two deck chairs that operate sort of like recliners: you lean back, and the feet rise up. I was sitting upright in one of the deck chairs, and Joanna suggested I might want to tip it back. "How do I do that?" I asked, and she said all I needed to do was lean back.

Well, I tried leaning back, I tried pushing back, I tried pushing from the handles, I tried pushing from the floor -- I just couldn't seem to make it go. Which was odd, because for her it was a perfectly simple operation: you just lean and the chair leans with you. Of course she's had these chairs, or chairs like them, for years: she grew up in California, and used to live in Florida, and has always been a sun worshiper. But for me, fair-skinned as I am, and having grown up mostly in the North -- Chicago, Vermont, and now Seattle -- well, sun worshipping has never really been an option, and these chairs are just... unfamiliar.

It's a bit like the physical therapy I've been doing this last month: there are certain muscles that just checked out, years ago, after an automobile accident, and for years other muscles have been compensating for them. So now I have to find the ones that are supposed to be doing the work of walking, pay attention to them, make them work, make them carry their portion of the load. It takes enormous concentration -- and I'm not very good at it yet. I do see progress, but it's very slow, and I have to stay on task -- just as I do see progress with meditation, but sometimes it's very slow, and I just have to stay on task.

But this morning, it was a bit like Joanna's chair: somehow, something moved a little differently, and I tipped right back into oneness. It was heavenly. Just heavenly. Like the sun on my face. So even if my day doesn't go as smoothly as I'd like, I'll get to carry this lovely memory of peace around with me. Such a blessing!

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