When it all falls apart

posted Dec 11, 2009, 6:43 PM by ash ‎(evermindful)‎   [ updated Dec 11, 2009, 9:00 PM ]
Each weekday I wake up and 5:30am and meditate at home for an hour. I then travel to the office on public transport. There are several connections on my travel; I drive to the train station, ride a train to the city, ride a tram to a stop and then walk to the office. Throughout this travel I practice meditation and mindfulness; mindful driving, sitting meditation, walking meditation and mindfully waiting for a connection. Ideally, I would like to get in at least 3hrs of uninterrupted practice a day. At the moment I am falling short of that motivation, but that is OK.

For some time I have seen my life as an array of examinations for the various periods in my life. Each examination includes a bank of tests, one for each mind moment. I seem to transition through periods in my life only once I have passed the examination. My current examination is challenging and validating all that I have learned previously…

Rather than describe the complexities of my situation with the technicalities of my work, I will use a metaphor instead. Imagine being part of a pilgrimage traveling on a train to a destination with 150 other new devotees. Imagine being an expert guide on this trip having done it repeatedly over the last 20 years. Imagine knowing all the many sites/checkpoints along the way. Imagine knowing the landscape, the sound of the train on the tracks and the sounds of each passing village. Imagine knowing the intensity of the train track bends, the smells from the brakes, clutch, burning coal and passing villages. Imagine knowing that so many things in this pilgrimage are going wrong. Things don’t look right, smell right, feel right, taste right, sound right; the whole timing is out of phase. You know all the signs and can foresee an inevitable crash with causalities. Your fellow travelers are a little suspicious but mostly blissfully ignorant. What do you do? Do you pull the emergency lever in the train and cause panic? Do you try to calmly educate those around you of the issues, risks, missed checkpoints and accept the management not listening? Do you get off the train and wish the pilgrims the very best. Or do you continue the journey and try to enjoy your time with the fellow travelers?

I have been on that pilgrimage for 1 month now. I am constantly being tested. My years of meditation practice have given me heightened sensitivity to my body and my mind. I feel currents of aversion within.

Yesterday I left work early to take my son to his cricket game. The train and tram was running late. I remained mindful and at peace. I knew I wouldn’t get to my son in time so I made other arrangements. I decided to drive to my daughter’s piano teacher’s house so that after the lesson we could go as a family in one car to the cricket game. I sat in the car and meditating waiting for my wife & daughter. The piano teacher decided to give my daughter a bonus lesson. Again I remained mindful and at peace, although I knew how late I would be. I drove mindfully to the cricket game in peak hour traffic. As I parked the car I saw my son bowling (like pitching). I knew how hard he has been practicing trying to prove himself to the coach. I coach my son a lot and he has really developed his bowling technique and rhythm and can deliver good pace. He was using a short run up, his rhythm was off and he was floating his deliveries in. The aversive current inside me increased. During games I only offer guidance if he requests it. I strolled around the field to catch him before his next over (next attempt at pitching). I said “Why aren’t you bowling faster”? He didn’t answer. I knew something was wrong, his confidence was low. For his next few overs (times at pitching) I watched him fractionally increase his run up but his rhythm was never there.

After the cricket we went to Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King) for dinner. I was now mindfully out of my range. I ate the new Double Angry Angus burger. It was good and filling! I then ate chips. I was considering getting an ice cream. Yes, that's right, I was feeling reckless. When we arrived home we watched Santa Clause 2. I know what you are thinking; was there sex, drugs and rock n' roll? No not quite, but is there really much difference? The point is that I mindfully let myself get out of range. The aversive current was too much and I wanted relief. I wanted a stimulant that numbed the stress.

This morning I awoke grateful for the lesson. I was grateful for the opportunity to see how a chain of events (this, then that) broke me. I woke, not with sadness, but with a smile. I know that last night I was out played by the ego but in time I will be able to control this aversive current in such conditions.

The tests we pass only offer validation, the tests we fail are the opportunity to progress.

May all beings be well and happy. May they be free of anger, hatred, fear and suffering. May they be well and happy.