seeing out

They say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever
And I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own…

-Billy Joel

Casual meditation with friends today, zooming in as we do regularly from various parts of the world, each with disparate strings of contemplative practice, brought together by a bright star whose timezone doesn’t match well lately. It was a day in which talking felt strange, contrived, which happens somewhat often. My sense at least, is that there is substantive nonverbal communication going on, but humans are so used to filling the space between, covering over awkwardness, that there is discomfort in not doing anything–not meditating and not talking, yet setting aside the time to be together. The second one of us suggests this may be going on however, we might correct for it and end up just as contrived, staring at each other without meditating or non-meditating. 🙂

Each of us can only respond to such an intuition in a personal way.


Sometimes, I want to lay bare all the circumstantial struggles I’ve been having, but to what end? Just because someone is wise about their own life, doesn’t necessarily mean they would have insight into what I might do to shake loose the restrictive patterns in my own. Therapy is for that, but not really. There’s very little advice in therapy, per se, just steady mirroring and encouragement, reminders to be gentle with myself, and to write about it.

I seem to have built a circle of people with incredibly different circumstances from mine, so different in fact that it’s hard to imagine they could comprehend the difficulties of my life, really. Compassion for my life? Sure. But deep down I feel as though anyone’s honest response to my needing help to see out would be along the lines of my mother’s favorite phrase when grounding me, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” But does anyone really make their own beds? By the time I had any sense of agency I was already quite deeply embedded.

In a psychological sense, if one is grounded a lot as a child, by a parent whose moods and punishments dramatically swing, perhaps there can develop a pervasive sense of entrapment… a feeling of going from one trap or set up into another. And perhaps there might be confusion about when one deserves to be punished or not, what one could have controlled along the way. I can still feel like this when trying to measure what my value is at work, or read overall signals, for instance. I’m having trouble keeping up physically, but am blank about what alternatives there might be. Sometimes my body feels like another captor.

A psychotherapist friend would often suggest “Dream on it”, modeling this guidance well over the course of years when facing her own challenges, but dreams have been missing guidance lately; my body is often achy from pushing through work, resulting in restless sleep. How I long for the deep deep contemplative rest experienced when on retreats! Was it the company, the simplicity, natural surroundings? What made way for that natural rest to take the helm during those times? If I must be captive, must be trapped, let me be trapped by Such a keeper.

“Someone who does not run toward the allure of love walks a
road where nothing lives. But this dove here
senses the love hawk floating above,
and waits, and will not be driven or scared to safety.”

― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi


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