What do you do
when another dark night is upon you?
Go to bed!
Don’t try to fix it
in your vulnerable, tired state;
many of the perceived problems
we think are afflicting us
tend to dissipate after a night of sleep.
And know most of all
that you are not alone, friend,
no, you are not alone.
In meditation tonight
it struck me–
what if I weren’t capable
of believing the thought
that I need to work hard
to become someone else,
What if I just couldn’t
think the thought
that there is something
wrong with me
that needs to be fixed?
What if I knew
that I’m who I’m supposed to be
doing what I’m supposed to be doing
exactly where I need to be
and at the perfect time?
What would happen then?
I don’t think I’d become complacent,
self-satisfied, lazy, or indifferent.
I think the contrary–
that I’d become more engaged,
more caring, more proactive,
more interested in the welfare of others.
It turns out that self-criticism
makes me quite self-absorbed,
opens me up to my connection
with everyone else in the universe.
I owe it to all beings, then,
to drop the story
that there is something wrong with me,
and wake up to the perfection
of this moment.
May the love I cultivate
for the Self within me
free up my power
to be a blessing
in the lives of others.
to breathe for my sisters,
Feeling drowsy, peaceful,
almost nodding off,
why I’m here,
why I’m doing this.
a voice says,
and I shake off my fatigue
for a moment longer.
And I realize
awakening is one thing
but staying awake is another.
Valentine’s Day is coming
and I want to teach a class
on heart opening.
So I research this and that pose
that helps to open the heart…
backbends, twists, forward folds,
And I don’t have time
to practice a sequence.
And I want to be more prepared.
And I worry that I’m not good enough
as a yoga teacher, as a mother…
And it strikes me
I’m missing the point.
How can we open our hearts
to the world
if we haven’t opened our hearts
So I start to open my heart
I let myself feel compassion
for this woman
who tries so hard to be good,
who worries that
she never quiet measures up,
who compares herself to others,
who dreams about
being far away from the noise
somewhere in nature
Now let me keep my heart open.
Let the compassion
continue to flow.
If I can help my students
reach this place
the postures really won’t matter.
What our bodies are doing
seems far less important
when seen from a perspective
of limitless connection
with all that is.
When the heart opens
the whole universe opens.
He is in pain
and there is nothing we can do about it.
He has been to doctors of all kinds
and no one knows what is causing it.
He has tried exercises, supplements,
undergone all sorts of tests and imaging
and now he is trying to modify his diet.
I feel helpless watching him suffer.
He manages to work through it
because he wants to continue
to support our family,
worries what would become of us
if he couldn’t work…
He comes home, grimacing
from the pain in his back.
I rub that gooey green gel on him
when we both know it won’t do much.
Again I feel helpless.
I don’t want to see him suffer.
There is nothing I can do for him…
And then today I remember tonglen,
the taking and sending practice.
and picture him in front of me.
I visualize breathing his pain
into the vast inner space of my heart,
so that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.
I breathe out, seeing him
healing, feeling good, feeling happy,
balanced, at ease, at peace.
I do this over and over again
for thirty minutes.
Later in the day I ask
How are you feeling honey?
Actually, not so bad today he says.
Dare I think my meditation helped him?
Dare I think it didn’t?
It doesn’t matter.
I’ll keep doing it anyway.
As I sat this evening
it suddenly occurred to me
that I was spending
a lot of time mulling
over the decisions
of our current commander in chief.
I have spent time worrying,
As I sat, I remembered
that sending the thoughts
born of these feelings
into an atmosphere
already charged with fear and negativity
will help no one, including myself.
What to do, I asked myself.
It doesn’t do any good to hate.
Although I completely disagree
with his actions, his rhetoric, his decisions,
he is a human being after all,
and like me, he wants happiness,
Lovingkindness is the antitdote
to hateful feelings.
Ah yes, lovingkindness, or metta
meditation. Here goes.
As I have done many times before,
I pictured the object of my meditation
sitting there in front of me.
There he was, Mr. Trump,
his face in my mind,
and I began repeating the phrases of metta:
May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy,
May you be peaceful and at ease.
I was able to generate genuine
feelings of compassion for him,
and to feel sorry for him,
being the object of so much hatred,
and under so much pressure
to make so many decisions
that will affect so many beings.
May you be safe,
May you be happy,
May you be healthy,
May you be peaceful and at ease.
Given recent events,
I know I have my work cut out for me,
but I commit to this practice
for the benefit of all beings,
this practice that gives me hope,
this practice that brings healing,
this practice that reminds me
of the inherent goodness of all.
Living on the edge of my comfort zone,
seeing how many hang-ups I still have,
wanting to embody perfection of patience,
compassion, understanding, self-restraint,
being confronted with human reality…
I feel the disappointment when I fail
and wonder if I can do better the next time.
After so many years of strengthening the habit
of reacting with anger
what can I realistically expect from myself now?
My loved ones are the most ruthless
at pointing out how far I have yet to go
and the least likely
to celebrate how far I’ve already come.
So there is the added disappointment
of wanting to be seen and heard
and not being met with the understanding
I so deeply long for.
Perhaps I can have compassion for all of us,
for the challenge of existing in an apparently
while simultaneously living in the isolation
of one’s own imagined world.
This is the plight we all must navigate
and the gift we must all unwrap
if we are ever to experience
the bliss of divine union,
the peace of life fully lived.