If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent. ~Pema Chodron
You’ve heard me frequently emphasize and encourage practice. I’ve talked about the “razor’s edge” of practice, that place where we are challenged to release, expand, embrace, accept, forgive. The place where we meet fear on the battlefield and bow in respect. The place where we experience the distress of not knowing. The place where we come face to face with reality and find that it looks just…like…us. Not the us that we tell ourselves about, not the us that we hide from others, not the us that we want others to see – no, the us as we are, just as we are, right now in this moment.
How do we practice when, well, when things are like they are? Especially like they are these days? How do we practice when everything from viruses to earthquakes to politics to not enough toilet paper threatens our equanimity? When our routines are disrupted, our expectations disregarded, our assumptions revealed and proven false? When fear runs rampant in our minds and our hearts are shattered in grief?
This is precisely the time to practice, to practice, as Pema Chodron says, like our hair is on fire. (That always makes me laugh…and motivates me!) This is when the practice we do when things are easy, shows up to support us and sustain us when things are hard. This is when the trust we have built up in our practice is put to the test and carries us steady on the course.
And what is it exactly that we are practicing? What we can. Awareness. Loving kindness. Meditation. Too much? That’s okay. Practice mindful breathing. Start with this breath. Now this one. It is enough.
The point is not to add more to our to do lists, or to reach some self-imposed standard, but to permeate our lives with compassion, beginning with ourselves. How many times have I heard someone say recently, “I have to,” or “I should have,” or some version of self demand or self failure. When I hear this, I just want to say, “It’s okay. We are all muddling through as best we can, learning and adapting as we go. It’s okay.”
Bring awareness and compassion to the muddling. It is enough.
Now is the time, not to be perfect, not to know everything. Now is the time to practice, to practice being here, now. Take another breath. It is enough.
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. ~Amit Ray
Note: The photo above is one of my statues of Kuan Yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy and compassion. I love this statue because she is surrounded by coiling dragons with water churning beneath her. Yet she remains serene, pouring the nectar of compassion right into the dragon’s mouth.