I am willing to enjoy,
my life as practice.
–Ani Trime Lhamo
May is a kind of New Year’s for me. I mark this time of year when my meditation practice became regular 3 years ago. It is not about tracking time in the sense of achievement; it is more about celebrating finding a practice that stuck and works. I would not be starting my day three years later meditating if it didn’t provide me a tremendous amount of joy and peace. People speak of a clicking point and I experienced one on a beautiful day in May outside on the deck in my backyard. When I opened my eyes after that particular practice, it was if a veil had been lifted and I could see clearly for the first time in my life. My practice has become a highlight of my day. It is always fascinating what my mind may have in store for me.
A year into my practice I felt that I really needed a mentor, someone I could touch base with periodically and ask qustions about practice. I found an amazing woman through IMCW who graciously spent several hours with me on another beautiful day in May and has since generously included me in her bi-monthly sangah. Upon leaving her home the first time we met, she gifted me with a small book from the Princeton Buddhist Meditation group. This book was compiled after the death of Ani Trime Lhamo fulfilling her wish to publish a book of affirmations, one for every week of the year. I am about to finish my second cycle of using the book’s weekly affirmations. I usually sit Saturday morning with my mala from Costa Rica and do some japa meditation with the affirmation. I get a bit giddy when I wake up Saturday morning wondering what the affirmation will be for the week. Sometimes the affirmation resonates with me immediately and sometimes there is an outright aversion to the words. It is usually when I am disappointed with the luck of the draw that sometime during the week it becomes blatantly clear why that affirmation was exactly what I needed.
This week something a bit different happend. I noticed over the course of the week that my emotions were running high. All the practice in the world wouldn’t allow the aggressive energy to subside. I noticed myself slipping into old patterns of thought that definitely don’t serve me. I reacted in ways that I am not proud of. The realization that energetically we were moving from the season of spring into summer gave this overwhelming energy that I was experiencing some context and guided my qigong practice ( check out all the heart centered practice we did this week) but I still struggled with letting go and just allowing the feelings I was experiencing to just be.
The sangha met this week on zoom and others were sharing similar experiences. Our facilitator shared a beautiful piece from Pema Chodron’s book Finding Peace in Times of War. The piece focused on patients. All of a sudden a light went off in my head. It was the piece that I had been missing all week. When the difficult thought patterns arose and I found myself slipping into old patterns I would try to expel these thoughts and emotions with practice.
Compassion practice, energy healing practice, self love practice, breath work and anything to shift the emotionally charged reality into something else. Sometimes this strategy works; all of the above practices have their merits. The magic ingredient that I was missing during this time was patients. Through all of my practices never did I just slow down and allow whatever I was feeling to just be. Our emotions are hints that allow us to connect to our needs. Instead of embracing them with a gentle curiosity that would have given me an insight into what my life force energy was looking for, I chose to try to eliminate them with practice.
Saturday morning when I woke up and prepared to meditate I opened the affirmation book and greeted the new week with “ I am willing to enjoy my life as practice”. What a perfect affirmation to sum up and begin a new week and a new year of practice. I was able to reflect on the more energetically charged week that I experienced last week with more compassion. Repeating the affirmation instilled in me that the whole point of life is to joyfully practice. Embracing life as practice can only be achieved with patients. If we don’t slow down in our emotionally charged times, all the practice in the world goes out the window without the magical ingredient of patients and embracing life exactly as it is.