Do you ever just want to crawl out of your skin during a meditation? Most of us experience this at some point. It can feel so unfair; just as you feel your body calms, suddenly you are agitated with your heart racing. When this happens it’s not because you are bad at meditation. It’s actually a natural phenomenon.
This summer I had a chance to spend a few days by Lake Superior and watch her ever changing moods. The lake offered me a great example of how stillness and storms can flow together. May this story fortify you to persevere through those moments when you just want to run from the meditation cushion.
The story begins on a very still, languid day. I could barely distinguish between the sky and the water. I meditated on that horizon point, where substance and ether seemed to dissolve into each other. This in-between quality is a feeling we cultivate in qigong in order to go deeper into our meditation.
I savored the lake all day. As I went to sleep I noticed a lightening storm far out on the lake. The flashing clouds were mesmerizing. It was so far away we could not hear the thunder. It was still calm where we were.
The next morning there was still no wind but the lake had become choppy. Waves from the previous night’s storm had reached us and beat a steady rhythm.
I have certainly been just like this lake. I still surprise myself by how often I greet a calm patch of life with tears, rage, or catching a cold. The inner storm might be so far away (or within) I can’t hear it, but I’m lit up. My whole being becomes choppy even though my environment is calm.
Meditation is like spending time with Lake Superior in so many ways. Slowing down, clearing distractions, we eliminate obstacles that block our inner horizon. We can see much farther and deeper.
We can dissolve into the place between being and not being which is so much like that hazy zone between water and sky. We can be both calm and storming far away. Maybe we won’t ever hear the storm or understand it. But it will pass. In time, we may also feel the ripples of that storm reach us. That will pass too.
The lake shows us it is possible to be both agitated and calm at the same time. Imagine that for yourself – agitated and calm at the same time; running from your meditation and also as steady and grounded as a mountain. Yes, it is possible!
Not only is it possible, it is much, much, MUCH more possible to hold this paradox than pure equanimity and calm. Take in the wide expanse encompassing the many textures of your inner life and see if you can keep sitting a little longer.
With all my love,
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