"Suffering is not a virtue. Joy is not a sin." ~Paulo Coelho
Those in my household are getting more and more comfortable with my meditation practice and my forays into the "soul cave" as my room is now dubbed. Though it is a little complicated. My husband, Terry, knows that if he comes into the kitchen and can't find me but sees the timer on the microwave ticking down, I'm sitting. He respectfully waits until the timer beeps and I emerge to check in with me.
Our dog, Trooper, on the other hand, doesn't have this handy-dandy notifier of where I am and what I'm doing. Usually, she'll trot right into the room, park her butt and stare at me. How do I know this since my eyes are closed? I've peeked...and there she sits, perhaps in meditation as much as I, boring holes through me.
I can out sit her, I think to my clever self as I brace for the ensuing competition. (A very soothing meditation technique, I assure you.)
But this seldom works. Why? Because she's already got one up on me. The way her toenails click-click-click on the wood floor on her approach mocks me for doing something as frivolous as meditating when I should obviously be tending to my manicurial duties. Or her stomach growls a plaintive reminder that it's far beyond time for breakfast and accuses me of wasting time. Or if all else fails, she'll bodily pant and dance, whining and crying, begging me within an inch of her life -- and mine -- for my attention. Just because she can.
And then I break my meditation and yell at her to go lay down, just because I can.
It makes me crazy, and I let it. I have enough trouble getting my mind to quiet down in the best of situations than to contend with Trooper's shenanigans on a regular basis. I'll admit that early on I loftily imagined we would come to some understanding where she would see what I was up to and quietly retreat to the other room until I was done. Not so much. Instead, she digs her heels in -- as do I.
I've often wondered if I'm failing somehow by responding to her at all...but how do I not? Maybe my will just isn't strong enough yet. Is this part of the process? The part where we have to learn to filter out the distractions and let ourselves get itchy and have a leg fall asleep and have the house burn down around us and keep on sitting? Do we really have to suffer in silence to be good at this sort of thing?
Last Saturday morning I came downstairs before Terry and Trooper got out of bed to get my meditation in while the house was still peaceful enough to not deal with much distraction. About halfway through my time, Trooper came bounding down the stairs with Terry close behind to let her outside. When he let her in she charged through the living room and into the "soul cave", planted her front paws on the cushion right in front of me and stuck her nose in my face as close as she could without touching me. I held my ground, but this time out of amusement rather than frustration and force. Without batting an eyelid, I very slowly pursed my lips, which Trooper quickly met with a huge SLURP before running off. The smile on my face lasted the rest of the meditation.
Maybe suffering isn't the virtue it's cracked up to be, here to teach us all of the valuable lessons we're told that it is -- the hard way. Maybe force is just always met by force. What I've been learning these months is that developing a softness that allows us to yield doesn't make us weak, but makes us stronger than we could ever imagine. It allows for the unknown -- for the possibility of finding our truth in some fascinating, exciting, unexpected place.
Maybe there is room for joy after all...//