Above: Imbetween Spaces, Encaustic Mixed Media, 2015.
I had truly forgotten the sweet feeling of quietness, to invite peace, ease and happiness into my life, with each daily moment, and the embracing of these imbetween spaces.
Coming off a 4-day silent Metta, (the Pali word for lovingkindness and friendliness) mindfulness meditation retreat, run by True North Insight (TNI) with three powerful teachers, Molly Swan, Jill Davey and Patricia Rockman, where the theme was on the 'heart of mindfulness'. The journey with all its conditions were as they needed to be, which I see now but didn't at first. The Loyola House in Guelph have these beautiful trails to get lost within and the food was soul nourishing and healing. The container provided by these three wonderful women has filled my heart and soul with love, gratitude and peace - it has been a gift.
The first two days was filled with my excruciating sleepiness, pure exhaustion came flooding in and the pain of sitting in every joint….was this exhaustion or avoidance?
I try to sit, meditate, to be still, to allow what may surface, reciting the metta phrases of love, safety and peace…yet all I get is sleepiness, I fall asleep, time and time again…. I try, really TRY, I hold my posture, breathe deeply, even force my eyes to open but all I get is sleepiness, it finds me time and time again..this is my struggle. Again I ask, is this exhaustion or avoidance or an invitation to renunciation?
It crosses my mind, "what have I done, is there still time to leave, to run away?". …But deep within I know I am here in the right time and place. I'm here as I need to be. The day seems endless the sitting (the falling asleep in my case) the walking, the standing, the walking, the eating, all in silence, and all with intent and so it goes on….all the while inviting Metta, for self, for the benefactor, the friend, the stranger, the unfriendly one, and all beings….sending Metta through myself, my heart making space for them all.
This reminded me of Rumi's poem, the GUEST HOUSE, to invite each guest with welcome arms, to sit, drink with them to listen intently. And so I get through the first day (barely) and the second day there seems to be a sweet settling, and I think maybe I can actually get some meditation done today, to sit, but 'nope' sleepiness arrives at my door again. This is when I realize the exhaustion is my guest to welcome in, to sit with to have tea and listen to intently.
That evening Jill Davey, gives a magnificent Dharma talk on 'happiness'…What is it? How do I get it? How come everyone else seems to have it? And like some, I too want those 'boots', - Yes that will make me happy, right? The newly renovated garage, the perfect kitchen, and the pristine English style garden, with just the right amount of wildness, with no weeds…this will do it, bring me happiness? Right!!!…Happiness is within - The making do with what is showing up, inviting a welcoming embrace for it all, being mindful with our thoughts, our reactions, our preferences, dislikes and likes, being loving with our imperfections….Being curious about it all, that is how I find my 'awake', whether it makes me happy or not. This is what is finding peace and harmony is, being in the moment - a perspective.
Sometimes we aren't able to change the conditions, or control the variables, to try to do so only brings challenge and suffering, like my 'forcing myself to stay alert and awake'…when I came to accept the state of exhaustion, it lifted, and I found I could truly listen….this was my guest on the last day - and I began to be able to feel the metta for myself, for those around me and for those in the room with all the sweet annoyances, and even for those that have hurt me intentionally and /or unknowingly. Out of which, I realize that I have only begun, touched the tip of the iceberg, and there is so much yet to feel, to deeply explore, to be awakened to. To make the space for metta daily, to see, feel and connect and slowly and softly tread this earth as I continue the unfolding. With a full heart I feel more space and welcome it all, whatever may arrive at my door.