On this day last year, I was riding back from Karmê Chöling Meditation Retreat Center in Barnet, Vermont, where I had a spent a week coordinating a retreat. As we made our way to a nearby airport where I would catch a flight back to Toronto, our conversation turned to setting an intention for the year.
Mine was ‘ Go with the tears.’ I chose this because on more than occasion the previous week, I found myself feeling overwhelmed and in tears. This was my first time coordinating a retreat away from my home meditation center where I had coordinated several daylong and weekend programs and only my third retreat away from home. It was intense, as retreats often are. I wanted it to be a success for everyone, and to complicate matters, my partner had become ill while I was away.
On one such occasion, the teacher I was working with saw my tears, asked me what was wrong, and when I managed to say “l don’t know what to do and I’m scared,” they gently took my hand and said “Let’s walk.” We walked through the main floor of the house (the retreat center was once a farmhouse) and back to the meditation hall. By then, I still wasn’t sure what I needed to do, much less how to do it, I just knew that I could.
Allowing myself to feel the fear (of judgement, of abandonment, etc) combined with the warmth and kindness of that simple gesture was such a gift, one that made it possible for me to connect with the innate strength and wisdom that we all have.
My default when I feel challenged or threatened is to get angry, but I’m learning that by allowing myself to feel the churning in my belly, the heat in my cheeks, the damp chill in my hands, the shallow breathing, the floaty feeling, without acting on them, without storming out or saying the angry thing, without shutting down, I can feel the sadness underneath. When I can do that, the words and actions that follow seem to come from a much gentler place.
So, there I was, on January 1, 2018, setting an intention to “Go with the tears.” I wish I could say it was easy and I was successful in not saying the angry thing or slamming any more doors or completely shutting down in fear. What did happen was each time I said the angry thing, or felt myself beginning to shut down, I recognized it as being an opportunity to touch back into my intention and gently recommit to it, to myself and to those around me.
Here it is, January 1, 2019, and I’m thinking that I’m going to need at least another year, if not another lifetime, to work on that intention, and a few others (like writing more regularly…) and I have a question for you:
Would you like to join me? Would you like to gather with others who are committed to living out their values, and supporting and learning from each other? We could gather on Zoom weekly or monthly, meditate together, and share our experiences? I claim no expertise other than this, and an open and willing heart, and I’d love to have company!
About the graphic: I felt inspired to create this, using Canva, following a conversation with a dear friend about great compassion and seeing with the eyes of the heart.