Life isn’t like Facebook, really. Life is painful and messy and confusing and chaotic. So why is it so many posts boast of joy and enlightenment and ubiquitous sunsets? It seems too easy.
We need to be in the mess to appreciate the moonlight, not the other way around. Trying to bask in joy and moonlight in order to shed our fears, anxieties, grief and monkey mind may have a momentary, superficial effect – like a pond becoming a mirror in the absence of the breeze, but the wind always returns and the calm surface is but a memory. What lies beneath still stirs in the water’s flux.
Recently, I find myself at the receiving end of unsettling and aggressive energy, slings and arrows hurled randomly and unpredictably. My way tells me that all people are basically kind and considerate and loving. My way is not accurate. I must now look at this this person and their actions clearly. I must take my emotional soup and go sit.
I am new to the practice of mediation. I honestly thought I was meditating for the past 20 years but have since discovered that I was bailing out; escaping the discomfort of intense emotions and experiences. Now, I can sit in my stuff and watch and work with it returning to the breath when mind has departed. There is still discomfort but it becomes a fascinating laboratory rather than a knee-jerk cue to run for the hills.
Usually I begin a session with japa mala but today loving kindness beckoned. I switched the image of my benefactor for my tormentor in the recitation. It was not that difficult, four simple lines interspersed with loving kindness for myself and all sentient beings, and a whole lot of concentration. I felt my sludgy emotions, I watched my flailing thoughts. I returned to the breath. In one moment I was distanced from the pettiness of hate and fear. In one moment I was overrun with sadness. In one moment the arrows turned to flowers. In one moment I was free.
Was my heart open? A little. Do I believe that I can affect someone’s behaviour by intentionally sending love energy? Maybe. What did become clear is that opening myself to compassion does not change the situation or bring more love to the person who is suffering. What it does do is bring me some peace and allow me to be more skillful with life’s challenges.
When the chimes rang and I gathered my stuff and re-entered the world fresher and calmer and more solid in myself. I am happy. I am healthy. I am safe. I live with ease.
I am unable to translate these moments of clarity into postable images. They come, they go. Just like the rest. But let’s enjoy the moon and the sun and remember that this too shall pass. Even on Facebook.