Someone asked me recently: "Susan, your comments about yoga and meditation interest me a lot, because I cannot see myself "shutting off my brain" long enough for emptiness to enter and for me to be calm."
Honestly, I think that meditation and yoga are probably MOST important for those of us who think we cannot "shut off" our brain! To be honest, I believe that most of us are scared to even try. I know I was. I loved my thoughts so much and the idea that they made me, *ME*, that the thought of losing them scared me. When I felt passionate and ON FIRE and was sharing with the world what I thought was the "right way to be"... well, honestly, that felt pretty awesome! I didn't want to lose that feeling. I didn't want to run out of ideas or things to write about. I didn't want to stop caring about what I thought was important.
Anyway, my fear has kind of come true lately - I just really don't feel the intense need to write any more. I've read that it happens to other people too. I think it is partly due to doing yoga/meditation every week. For a couple of months (since around the time that the world lost Robin Williams) I literally could feel my heart aching - it was raw and open and a day wouldn't go without something causing it to throb in my chest. I wasn't exactly depressed - I mean I was carrying on quite well with a busy schedule, maybe even keeping up a little better than usual - but my emotions were always just barely below the surface. I feel like I've clawed my way back up to more stable ground with laughter, gratitude, and mindfulness.
Last week Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, experienced a severe brain hemorrhage. Last night I downloaded a free digital copy of his work "Be Free Where you Are." I read much of it immediately. It is beautiful and profound. He opens with a poem he wrote during the war in Vietnam right after a town was bombed and destroyed by U.S forces. Here is the poem:
I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands
to keep my loneliness warm-
two hands protecting,
two hands nourishing,
two hands preventing my soul from leaving me
Yes. This hit a sweet spot for me. I know in my head that despair is not really helpful or useful to anyone - and yet when you see so many terrible things happening every day in the world, most by our own human hands - it is easy to despair.
So I'm still thinking. But I'm also being more mindful - when I driving to teach I put on some classical music, see the beautiful fall colors, and notice my breathing. I'm trying to be better at really listening and hearing my children and husband when they are talking to me - even if I'm feeling tired.
And my mind isn't quite so busy. Turns out it wasn't really scary at all. Turns out it's pretty nice.