“The point [of meditation] is not to improve yourself …but to come back to who you are, the awareness that is your birthright”
These are the words of Jack Kornfield, who facilitated the first session of the ‘Love and Power’ weekend retreat.
Jack Kornfield quoted Zen master, Suzuki Roshi who when asked to talk about higher consciousness, said:
“I do not know anything about higher consciousness, I just try to teach my students how to hear the birds sing.”
How beautiful, how simple! Be present to the mystery and beauty that is life, and you will be content.
There is so much that we are not aware of, most significantly ourselves. This then is the power and magic of meditation – to come back to who we are, to be aware and present. The practice of meditation is continuous and eventually it becomes easier. I have no answer as to the measure of time this may be for you nor even I. It is not about arriving somewhere. To be honest I am not certain there is a destination we need concern ourselves with. It is the practice journey of meditation itself which teaches, which brings us back to who we are.
The essence of meditation is twofold – silence and stillness. As opposed to being ‘silenced’ by a fear, in protest or by resignation, silence in meditation is empowering because we come to sit in that space in which we are aware of ourselves, of our world and our relationship with the world; and we then have choice to accept ourselves for who we are.
I have written on occasions about our humanity, our flaws, our Shadow. I hold mine gently in the palms of my hands, sometimes in playful lightness, sometimes in contemplation, always being mindful not to judge. I do not always succeed. That is okay too. The very act of being aware of my Shadow is by itself, empowering – to walk this life with consciousness. As for judging, whether self and others, the crux is to know when you are judging; if you can name it, you are more likely to be able to let the act or thought go. Practice, practice, practice…
Life is difficult – broken friendships, marital discord,social injustice, discontentment, illness etc.. Life is beautiful – bird songs, dew drops, oceans, loving relationships, desires, talents and abilities, etc.. Of the two, our common usual want is to embrace the ‘good’, the pleasant; while we ignore and avoid the difficult.
To paraphrase Jack Kornfield as he closed the first session,
Turn to that which is difficult (i.e. suffering) and you’ll learn something of value
Seat yourself in the middle of everything, joys and sorrows
Trust the space of awareness
With a loving heart, acknowledge this is our humanity
Without judgment, the need to fix it, or ideals.
This is what it means to be present – to not look to our history and judge and attempt to fix it, to not look to our future and judge it against ideals we have inherited from our past or history.
I know it is easier to be nostalgic of ‘the good old days’, be resentful or hateful of a history of a relationship, to look to ideals and be stuck when a future does not seem to be as planned. We live everywhere – the past and the future – except in our present. I know, I go there, more often than I care to admit.
We have the capacity to be present, what is required is the courage to do so. Because to be present may necessitate looking at our own pain now.
So will you take your seat amidst your humanity
With affection and tenderness
And be present to your humanity
The joys and the sorrows
With awareness and acceptance?
Image 2: Journey by H Kopp-Delaney http://fineartamerica.com/featured/journey-ii-h-kopp-delaney.html
Image 4: Namaste by John Stevens http://johnstevensdesign.com/photo/namaste/
© 2014 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.