The other day, as I poured my heart onto the pages of my journal, I found myself writing the adage, “this, too, shall pass” as a way to assuage the less than comfortable emotions, feelings, and sensations I was sitting with.
“Don’t worry,” I said to myself “eventually, these feelings will diminish. You won’t be here forever.”
No sooner had I penned those words than I felt sorrow at their truth. These feelings will pass! They aren’t going to stay with me. That means they all pass! None are permanent.
At the same time I felt relief. I won’t feel this forever, I will move through it and into something new. The sorrow and relief felt bittersweet; and I’m not sure which was the sweet side.
I will never be here again.
The simplicity of that statement feels profound.
I will never be here,
It’s so simple and obvious that I take it for granted. In its wake, I feel both absolute comfort and utter devastation.
Each moment, with its unique influences, feelings, sensations, interactions, communications, is entirely fleeting.
and acutely dead.
Finite, limited, contained,
and, infinite, boundless,
more vast than we can imagine.
And everyone holds within themselves and about themselves entire universes of moments. We’re standing in a blustery blizzard of moments, both unique and collective; individual and shared.
Like snowflakes, no two are the same. They fall away, melting and disappearing if we try to cling to them; merging with the drifts in the hills or the stream running through them; getting caught in our eyelashes, melting on our noses or our tongues, recycling into something new and different.
And more often than not, we’re so stuck in our heads, that we don’t see the beauty dancing before us.
Instead, we’re busy. We occupy ourselves lamenting the past, remembering the “good old days,” or, inventing the future. Rarely do we sit with what is, as it is. It can always be different, we think, better, more interesting. We weave stories and scenarios in our heads that cloud our minds, confuse our senses, and often leave us disappointed with what is really here.
My sitting practice makes this frighteningly apparent. I sit down on my cushion every morning, and in seconds, I’m whisked away into a memory, a movie scene, a problem at work or in a relationship, a dream, fantasy, or story.
My mind zips into the future, fantasizing about and creating new moments that have yet to be experienced, wondering what will happen, if I’ll finish my to-do list, what I’m going to eat for breakfast, who I’ll talk to today.
And then, just as suddenly as it began, my mind stops, and I remember what I came to the cushion to do. I take a few deep breaths, feeling my body on the cushion, my back tall and straight, hearing the birds chirping outside the win–
And then I’m gone again, lost in my mind, trapped by it’s habits, thoughts, and processes. Like a shark that has to keep swimming to stay alive, my mind has to keep thinking to stay alive. “I think, therefore I am!” it screams.
And it should scream; I’m killing it.
Every time I notice that my mind is running like the wind, and I stop, gently releasing its grip and control on my awareness, and choose to just sit here, it dies a small death.
Every moment that it dies is a moment that I get to live, fully engaged and participating with the world as it is. When my mind stops, empties, I’m available for so much more.
What do I want more of?
You know those moments that seem to go on forever, and are over in an instant?
You’re so engrossed in something or someone that everything else stops? You lose all sense of space and time and simply exist. No thinking, no planning, just instinct. You flow from one movement to another, one position to the next, evoking a yogic dance that unlocks a universe of possibilities, of creativity, birth, death, emergence.
That’s what I want, in every moment.
Flow. Flux. Freedom.
So, I break my mind. Slowly, gently, and with love, layer by layer, day by day, moment by moment. I resist its impulses, its drive to keep me safe and small, to create comfort and stability.
Because I am so much more than my mind.
It is a useful, necessary, and amazing part of me, and it is only a part. My mind cannot possibly hope to contain the fathoms of this vast being, of this human in process.
“This too shall pass…”
I say that not as a way to disengage, to step back and separate myself from the discomfort of my experience. No. Instead, it’s a reminder to make myself fully available to what is here, because pretty soon, it won’t be.
Savor every moment. Painful ones. Pleasurable ones. Moments that last forever, and moments that pass in the blink of an eye. Suck out all of the juice; taste each flavor; feel the textures, temperatures, and sensations.
What else is there?
Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance
Time passes swiftly by and opportunity is lost
Let us Awaken.
Awaken. Take heed.
Do not squander your life.