The goodbye speeches have been made and applauded. I have a couple of cards, with some beautifully written words in them and just the present I needed. I’ve hugged people I haven’t even touched in years of working with them and I put a box of photos and other memories in a box and driven home. After 30 years in one career, I am off. Time for a change and all that sort of thing. Soon I start a whole new job. But just now, here I am sat on my sofa, sipping my tea having finished my marmalade on toast. The house is quiet. The children are out and there is no music or tv on. I am right here. Between one thing and the next. Neither in the before state or in the one yet to come one. But equally, neither am I in a separate from them. It’s like the gap between the in breath and the out breath. That gap is only there because there is a breath before and after it, but still, in a way it is a separate gap.
And in this moment on the sofa I found myself feeling awkward; wanting to distract my mind with sensory stuff; a song, some more toast and tea, the telly. I didn’t have the courage to sit and notice what was present. I am not sure what it was that made me uncertain and nervous, but I could feel myself moving up and away from what was there in that moment. And this habit mirrors so much of both my own practice and other people’s meditation. On the cushion the mind is quite content-thank you-far off from that moment and that place; planning the day, day dreaming of the future doing good deeds and all being well in the world. We sit down knowing what we need to do and how to do it. We have heard the guidance before, maybe many times before. And also we know that when we do it a wiser and more spacious knowledge grows in us whilst that moment of awareness is present. What maybe worth trying is to own up to the present moment; a kind of “Yes that is here. I understand and appreciate that it is here. I am okay with what is here” Even if that owning up is painful and just for a moment, we can still start to learn how let go of the entrenched desire for that next something outside of ourselves and instead simply sit in the space between one thing and the next.
So tomorrow, sit again and practice noting the ending of one thought, feeling or emotion and the arising of the next. Pay attention to the mind being distracted from where you intended it to be. Then kindly, but precisely, invite it back again. And repeat that as many times as you need to during that practice and in all your future practices too. Own up to how it is in the present moment.
“In the moment that we awaken from being lost in a thought or feeling or reaction, in that very moment we can recognize the empty, clear, skylike nature of awareness itself. In that moment of wakefulness, we get a glimpse of freedom. And instead of judging ourselves for all the times we do get lost, which happen again and again, we can delight in each moment of awakening.” Joseph Goldstein