Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

Journal

Seeing the Unseen

Seeing the Unseen

I’m walking the labyrinth this morning and noticing dewdrops on blades of grass as they catch the light of the rising sun. Patches of dewdrops are visible only from certain angles. Otherwise, they are present but unseen. It’s an interplay that depends on where you and the object are in relation to each other and to the sun. Timing is also a factor because of the dewdrops’ transitory nature.

I recognized this immediately as my daily metaphor. Nature is a mirror that helps me to make more sense of the ambitious curriculum of Schoolroom Earth.

I can tell the labyrinth received some TLC recently, probably yesterday. It was neat and tidy and perfect for walking. Feeling appreciative, I stood at the end of the willow branch threshold and didn’t step into the labyrinth until I arrived fully in the space and could feel my feet on the ground, hear the sounds, and feel the breeze on my skin. Ground, sound, around.

As I walk, I notice the shadow pictures on the recycled slate steps of the labyrinth and think of all the different images that went unnoticed until I looked in a new way, and they became visible. Then I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed them before.

Isn’t that just how it works, though? You’re blind to certain realities until you’re in the right place and ready to see them. Visually and otherwise. Even when they are right there in front of you and had been all along.

All of a sudden, in one moment, breath, or footstep, it seems so obvious, and you can’t unsee the thing. I remember the day I first noticed the shadow pictures. It was like a new world opened up, and from then on, they were plain as day. Then I started noticing other kinds of shadow pictures. It was a new, expanded way of perceiving the world.

Sometimes other people can help us open our eyes. For example, one of my photographer friends shared a picture of geese floating on colorful, autumn reflections. Her image spoke to me and planted the seed of longing to notice and photograph the interaction of birds and reflections. Sharing her perspective made me aware of a new possibility. 

Shadow pictures, others, self: It’s all the same. When the blinders finally come off, you see (and then can’t unsee) things that previously passed under the radar. We evolve by becoming aware of blind spots and expanding our field of vision and awareness. Sometimes it happens when there is a pressing need and we’re actively seeking a new perspective, and sometimes it happens when everything lines up just right. And when it does, there’s no value in regretting that you hadn’t seen it sooner. For whatever reason, you weren’t ready.

Just be glad you finally did, and go on from there.

Late for Meditation

Late for Meditation

I’m really glad I went to dharma meditation group this morning, even though I was five minutes late. It might have been because I got out of bed about a half hour before I needed to leave, and someone beat me to the bathroom, so I had to wait a few minutes. At any rate, by the time I left the house, I realized I would be a few minutes late.

What were my options?

  1. Don’t go.
  2. Sit outside the door until the break between sittings.
  3. Enter the meditation room as quietly and mindfully as possible.

The group meets in a wellness facility. A room at the back of a gym. When I got to the door, it didn’t feel right to sit outside the room. It felt more right to enter quietly.

Ever so slowly and mindfully, I turned the door handle, opened the door, and walked towards the meditation blankets and cushions, feeling each slow-motion, bare footstep making contact with the hardwood floor. It was a very short walk of fewer than ten steps, but in the piercing silence of the meditation room, it felt intrusive nonetheless. 

I sat down silently on my cushion and tuned in to what was going on in my head and body. Most of all, I hoped I didn’t disrupt anyone’s meditation. Do I have a right to be here? Was it selfish to come in a few minutes late? 

In meditation, you work with what arises, what shows up. For me, it was the voice in my head that didn’t want to bother anyone or act selfishly. I took a couple of deep breaths and did a body scan, which revealed energy in an area that often feels imbalanced, in a nook right below the center of my rib cage. So I directed my attention there, like a flashlight.

There was some panic in that spot. I was tempted to focus on my breathing instead of the tension. I noticed some resistance to being intimate with that energy and noted: Resistance. Then I realized there was a tender and vulnerable energy beneath the panic and investigated it. It seemed like a young child, and I heard: Am I lovable? Is it okay to make a mistake? Do mistakes make me bad?

This energy called for presence, not for the logical mind to step in and fix things and avoid connecting with and feeling the vulnerability. The childlike sweetness and purity of the questions touched my heart. I wanted to care for this little child.

But then I got distracted. I noticed the sounds outside the door: the whirring of an exercise machine moving very fast with an intensity that was in stark contrast to my stillness on the cushion. I heard voices talking. Were they louder than usual? OH NO! Did I not close the door all the way? Am I responsible for ruining everyone’s meditation?

Paying attention, I once again noted: Panic. I stayed with the source of that energy. 

A few minutes later came the most dreadful realization of all: I FORGOT TO TURN OFF MY PHONE! Oh dear God, no! Please don’t let my phone make any sounds! What are the chances I will get a phone notification before the meditation bell rings? Okay, so I have a choice right now. I can hope and pray my phone will remain silent until the meditation is over. Or I could very mindfully and as quietly as possible reach for my bag, unzip it at a snail’s pace, and turn off my phone. Which would be least disruptive? Waiting for the bell did not seem as empowering a solution as turning off my phone. However, I decided to take that risk. Oh meditation bell, please ring soon!

Panic. Choice. Choosing to wait for the bell to ring. Questioning that choice. Noticing the temptation to criticize myself.

Then the bell rang, mercifully. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned off my phone.

After a brief break and dharma talk, we meditated again. I returned to the vulnerable energy at the base of my rib cage and placed a hand on that area to flow Reiki – unconditional love – to it. The energy wasn’t asking for reassuring explanations. It needed love. So I nurtured it with loving presence. How often do I shush that voice and focus on something else, thereby diminishing its importance and not hearing what it wants to tell me? And therefore not giving it what it needs.

After a few minutes, the energy calmed and cleared.

Then I noticed the voices outside the door again. The glorious voices! They were still loud. But that meant I didn’t mess up! It’s just the way the sounds are in that room. Maybe others were irritated by the voices and wished they would be quieter and less disruptive. In which case: Irritation. Desire.

Maybe some were grateful for the sounds of the voices bringing them back from wherever their mind had wandered. Returning. Appreciation.

Maybe when some people come in late, they squelch the voice that wonders if they are lovable, or maybe that voice doesn’t arise in them as it did in me. Maybe they assert their right to be here, and screw anyone who has a problem with it! (Thought bubbles over a roomful of meditators would be hilarious, heartbreaking, mundane, and everything in between.)

In the past, I sat next to people who came in late during meditation and noticed the sound of their rapid, shallow breathing, as if they’d been rushing. Compassion arose in me, and I radiated love to them and honored their intention to practice. Who knows what they went through before arriving. Their determination to attend meditation group was greater than whatever obstacle got in the way. Good for them!

I’ve also witnessed a meditator scowl at a latecomer. And I judged the scowling, thinking: He should just focus on his own breathing and reactions rather than get upset with someone who decided to show up after all. And then I caught my reaction. Judging. Storytelling. 

Hello, Ego, my old friend. You nearly pulled me in again.

An observer might think it looks like everyone in the meditation room isn’t doing anything. But there’s so much that arises as invitations for awareness, healing, compassion, self-compassion. You work with whatever shows up. That’s the practice. When other people are involved, there’s an abundance of opportunity for practice because relationships are perhaps our principal means for learning in this world. But there’s plenty of opportunity when we sit alone in a room, too. There’s no shortage of material to work with, whether alone or with others.

At the end of the meditation group, an older woman approached me and complimented how quietly I entered the room and said she wishes others would come in so quietly. She told me she’s glad I came. Someone else might have a different response, a different story, different habits.

But you know what? The energy that arises in me is what I have to work with, and I felt good about how I handled it today, for the vulnerable, child energy received what it needed. The more I can accept and love all the parts of myself that arise, the more cleanly I can relate to others.

Of course, it’s important to get to meditation group on time. But if you are a few minutes late and choose to enter the room – or even if you’re on time or practicing alone – pay attention to the voices and energies that arise. They are there for your healing and liberation. All of them.


© 2019 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, Reiki practitioner, and mindfulness meditation teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Some Questions to Consider

Some Questions to Consider

Some Questions to Consider

What if it is not your responsibility to change or save anyone else?

What if you’re not a failure if you can’t?

What if trying to save someone would deprive them
of learning essential lessons?

What if it’s not your job to smooth things over and create harmony?

What if all is well even when it doesn’t appear to be?

What if your children have their own path
and aren’t here to serve your image?

What if you ultimately don’t know what is best for them
or what they are here to experience?

What if the relationship doesn’t end when a loved one dies,
and there is still plenty of time for reconciliation and intimacy?

What if nobody who loves you
would want you to feel bad about yourself
or tolerate abuse?

 

What if life is not a race or competition,
and there’s no need to compare yourself to anyone?

What if other people’s opinions of you don’t matter,
and what you believe about yourself and others is everything?

What if the qualities you consider weaknesses are actually strengths?

What if your net worth has nothing to do with your true worth?

What if your true worth has nothing to do with your partner’s infidelity
or the inconsistency of your parents’ love and support?

 

What if you don’t have to be right?

What if the answers you seek live in your heart,
not your head?

What if you don’t require any more credentials, teachers, or training
to offer your talents and services to the world?

What if you don’t have to believe what anyone tells you,
even your guru?

What if you have an inner guru
that offers the best advice and insights?

What if it’s not possible to achieve self-worth
through pleasing someone else,
and you’re better off smashing the pedestal
you’ve used to elevate others?

What if there is no ‘other’?

 

What if you admit you have been traumatized?

What if it wasn’t your fault?

What if trying so hard to see the good in someone
prevents you from realizing how unhealthy it is
to have them in your life?

What if part of you remains untouched
by any kind of suffering and can help you to heal?

What if you are stronger than your deepest wound?

What if you are not a victim?

What if there is no one to blame?

 

What if doing the best you can at the moment is enough?

What if your true nature is inherently good and trustworthy
despite everything you’ve done?

What if you are worthy of forgiveness?

What if you are already forgiven?

What if it’s okay to fail
again and again and again?

What if your pace on the path of enlightenment is exactly right?

What if it is not possible to go off the path?

What if you are lovable just as you are?

What if your body is fabulous exactly as it is?

What if your greatest hindrance is your greatest teacher?

What if you already are good enough?

 

What if these invitations open you to a tenderness
capable of transmuting your worst afflictions
and releasing the beliefs that keep you living small?

What if it’s okay to live small
and be content with the life you have
because you perceive the fullness of the ordinary?

 

Do the possibilities make you feel uncomfortable?

Do you fear they would be yet another falling short
and render you irresponsible, complacent,
destined for damnation,

Or have you touched the realization
that everything you have learned
to loathe and fear about yourself
is rooted in innocence
and serves your evolution?

Have you discovered yet
that when you dissolve the stories
that disconnect you from the Higher Self
something deeper and wiser takes over
and pulls you along?


© 2019 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, Reiki practitioner, and mindfulness meditation teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

There's so much I want to share with you! Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. And don't worry: I won't spam you or share your info with anyone!

You have Successfully Subscribed!