Thursday, March 12, 2009

Getting Out of the Way

I've been thinking a lot about my book project lately. It is out for an initial review and I have honestly no idea what the response will be. Strangely, for the large part, this feels OK. Will I be told it's crap? That it has potential? I don't know that it matters. There's something here that I fear is ambivalence which actually feels like freedom. As if I have some degree of non-attachment to the whole thing, which isn't because I don't care or don't want to finish a completed, polished manuscript or that I don't know the woman reviewing my work, therefore I'm not invested in her comments.

Is it a knowing, perhaps? That I'm on to something, even if I don't know exactly what it is? Or how it will turn out?

I recognize it now as my style to have pieced together my first draft, regardless of how shabby, to then be able to reshape and re-vision and spiff it up from there. Like roughing in the framing of a remodeled room, I can now sit back with the parameters set and imagine the possibilities. It's a, "what do I have to work with here" mentality that lends itself perhaps not to endless options, but to more options than I could ever want or need as long as I remain open to what's available.

It's a bit unnerving to be here, in this place I've never been. But exciting, too. Each successive step in the book-writing process is its own animal, yielding rewards and complications and wonders unique to the moment...that I will come to know each time, for the first time.

That's what living in the now is all about, isn't it? For evolutionary purposes, we have been designed to retain all our old information: what happened here or there, where are the potential pitfalls. We needed this to survive, to anticipate what would happen before it actually occurred. I would argue that in this age of relative ease and convenience, the same rules do not apply -- at least not in the same way. Suspending our preconceived ideas and expectations of what we think something will be or even should be allows us the freedom to imagine what they could be. Or at the very least, appreciate them for what they are.

All experience is just a microcosm informing something deeper -- our personal process for living our own lives. Experience is a tool by which we can witness how we view the world, either as another dragon to slay or as an unfolding of possibility, each moment flush with its own potential.

Working on this book project, for me, is such a tool. What I've recognized is: we are the now. Each of us is this present moment, ripe with the potential and possibility just waiting for us to get out of our own way to see what -- or who -- will arise.//

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Holding Space

Last fall, a friend introduced me to Vipassana, which is an ancient form of insight meditation practice based on the concept of seeing things as they are. By watching the breath, observing the body and its sensations and how these sensations condition the mind, which in turn informs action, self-transformation can take place. Typically, Vipassana retreats last a minimum of ten days, however we attended a three-day retreat. After an intense three days of silence, alternating sitting meditation with walking meditation, I knew that the time was too short and that I needed more.

After the retreat, I tried to incorporate this meditation into my daily life with little success. For Christmas, I asked for a zafu meditation cushion, sure that this was they key to what I needed to support my fledgling practice. Until last weekend, the cushion sat in my closet. I have no where to put it, I reasoned. So, in the closet it sat. I've pulled it out and used it a couple times, randomly here and there. But the point of course, is to make a daily ritual of it. This is especially important as I prepare for a ten-day Vipassana retreat in July (gulp!).

As with all new things we introduce into our lives, they require a certain amount of dedication, discipline and resolve. And a willingness to explore our own process and determine what we honestly need to make the new habit, whatever it is, possible. Excuses abound if we let them. My favorite excuse is that our house is modestly sized and I don't have my own meditation space. I do, however, have an elaborate sketch of my ideal studio especially for writing, painting, yoga and meditation, in view of what would be my magnificent flower and vegetable gardens, and acres of trees. For some future house, at some future time. Which does nothing for me or my mediation practice now.

Last Sunday, I was in our office and in a flash, saw my meditation cushion nestled in a small space between two bookshelves. Ah ha! I thought. I pulled out a tablecloth I had purchased at a flea market years ago for no other reason than I fell in love with the pattern and the fabric (which has incidently almost never been used for its original purpose), and smoothed it out on the floor, in half, to mark the space I would need. I fished the cushion from the depths of the closet and set it on the tablecloth on the floor. The space is small; my husband and I share the office and while it's more or less out of the way, it's awkward. And, it's perfect.

In the spirit of Vipassana, of seeing things as they are, we need to be present to what is currently available to us and live from there. It doesn't mean we abandon all dreams for the future. Being present to our circumstances and living inclusive of them rather than in spite of them, we are able to create the space -- literally or figuratively -- for whatever we need to live our fullest life. Having my cushion holding space for me makes it infinitely easier for me to show up to the task...however, it is still up to me to get there.//