Thursday, February 10, 2011

The critical importance of rest

I'm getting conflicting messages this morning.  On the one hand, Brene Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, is inviting me to inventory what works in my life right now, and then to compare that to our current wish list.  It is her conviction that what's working may well be the important things of life, and that the wish list is to a large extent extraneous.

At the same time,  the Spirituality and Practice website's course on Interspiritual Meditation is encouraging me to visualize what I want to become, and to work toward transformation, using meditation as a tool to facilitate that.

The first challenge is about accepting things as they are and living in the now.  The second is about understanding how we have failed, what might be missing or imperfect and working toward some higher good; it feels very future-oriented.

And I'm thinking that this is part of why choosing the spiritual path is so challenging: how do we maintain that constant balance between being attentive to, accepting and appreciating and finding divine wisdom in the now while at the same time working to improve and enhance our abilities as compassionate thoughtful service-oriented beings in the world?

As I think on this, I realize it's a bit like driving a car: some part of me is attuned to the car itself -- to speed, pressure on the accelerator, direction, hands on the wheel, preparedness...  And some other part of me is always scanning the environment in which the car moves, attentive to sudden shifts and changes as well as expected ones; to the deer at the side of the road and the stop sign and the man walking his dog and the traffic and the car that's coming up too fast from behind and planning to pass me on the right...

And all the while there's an awareness of time, and of destination, and of what's expected of me when I arrive.

It's not that any one piece is critical; it's that all the pieces are essential, and we somehow find a way to balance our attention, keeping it centered and yet constantly moving.

So what is this image saying to me about all of this?  I'm thinking it's about the actual subject of this particular chapter in Brown's book: Play and Rest.  The only way we can pull off this complicated task of life is to make time to rest: to pull the boat out of the water from time to time, and instead of spending our time sanding it down and repainting it, to just appreciate it for what it is; to relax and enjoy the colorful layers and the sturdy construction of life just as it is; to let that to-do list just hang there for a bit.

1 comment:

M.L. Gallagher said...

Like the boat analogy -- as always your water references resonate.

I'm going to write my blog tomorrow on my experience at my meditation group last night -- it is exactly what you speak of -- in the now, service, holding on, wishing for, not wishing...

I needed to read this today to 'see' clearly the reflection of my experience in the water -- I had to get out of the water so it could become calm.