|Granpas loving hands|
The use of loving hands and a loving touch came to my rescue last night. I couldn't sleep till about two because I had a painful and sore throat. I couldn't swallow, I couldn't breathe easily because my nose was blocked and I just couldn't sleep with all that pain. I tried to clear my nose by rubbing the outer part of the nose, I tried to breathe hard in spite of a blocked nose and all of it sent alarm bells ringing in my head. So much for loving touch, my head seemed to say. It was in that moment that I chose to accept that pain and my hands showed me the way. The way I was treating myself-my nose, my throat- constantly trying to rid myself of the blocked nose and the itchy throat, using my hands to help me rid this pain, all of that was a way of waking up for me. It dawned on me that I was pushing away a part of myself. I wanted only a neat, happy, relaxed self that could help me go to sleep and my way of doing that was by pushing away this sick, itchy, uncomfortable side of me. I was so far away from loving myself.
That's when I sat up and did the tonglen meditation along with my breathing practice. Below is a video of the Tonglen meditation by Pema Chodron. It is a meditation that allows one to experience the "spacious quality of our minds and the warmth of our hearts" it is a way to get closer to pain that one feels and in that accept ones own pain as well as the pain of humanity. Pain is not something that we rid ourselves of, it is something that we get closer to and befriend. It is in knowing both pain and happiness that we get closer to ourselves and humanity.
She says "This slogan points out how interruptions themselves awaken us, how interruptions themselves-surprises, unexpected events, bolts out of the blue-can awaken us to the experience of both absolute and relative bodhichitta, to the open, spacious quality of our minds and the warmth of our hearts. This is the slogan about surprises as gifts. These surprises can be pleasant or unpleasant; the main point is that they can stop our minds. You're walking along and a snowball hits you on the side of the head. It stops your mind."
So using Lisa's prompt to remind me about loving myself, using Toglen to accept the uncomfortable and painful, were all ways to use the unexpected to awaken to authenticity. Every moment of every day is a reminder in pausing our thinking, obsessing minds, shifting away from the ever so important "I" and focusing of the vast space that fills us and bounces off of us. You can be jolted out of your "I" talk in many many ways. Something as simple as a sneeze can jolt you out, a shocking news, a disaster, a pleasant surprise- all of it are gifts to awaken us to the experience of unbounded space, all of it are invitations to develop compassion for the predicament of the people in the world and ourselves and all we need to do is pay attention to our hands. That simple.
* The title of this post is from a book by Cheri Huber with the same name. I highly recommend this book.It is an exercise in self awareness and is truly a treasure. For Indian readers it is available on Flipkart.com! I just checked. The inspiration to use this as a title comes for Lisa's post, so if you are wondering what in the world that means, hop on over to her website to read more.