Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting Me to Move Over

Last night I was re-reading sections of Joko Beck's "Nothing Special" when something she said hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  In fact I woke up this morning still spitting shards of  brick.

Talking about practice Beck says, " ... the centre of our life is shifting from a preoccupation with ourselves to life itself.  Life includes us of course;  we haven't been eliminated, ...  But we're no longer the centre."

As I read this it made me think about my mother and the little tantrums (internal, thank goodness!) of anger  I have about her.  I felt this little shadow of shame creep over me.  There it was an instant flashbulb fuelled snapshot of ME square in the middle of the view finder.  It is me putting myself first with my wanting things to be my way that fuels this anger that rises up in me inconveniently, uncomfortably.   It felt like " a penny dropping" as my friend the monk likes to call it.  It wasn't just the of reading Beck's chapter called "The Talk No One Wants To Hear"  (which is about our comfort seeking and self centred behaviour).

I think it was combined with the fact that on Sunday I listened to part of the recording I made recently of my mother talking about her life as a child.  My brother was visiting and as we sat over the crumbs of our breakfast knishes and bagels, I played him a bit of the recording.  I could hear it as sadder and more heart wrenching, than I had when I first recorded it, perhaps it was filtering through his ears, reflecting in his eyes.   

This morning I woke up feeling just a little more mindful of the little things I say and do and the "me" focus of them.  I woke up feeling like I wanted to make the effort to be a little more patient and generous of spirit.  I could see the tiny twist of words I might normally fire out that denote impatience or judgement.  I could pause and resist the inclination to speak out of habit and hurry.  It was interesting to watch.  The spirit of generosity extended even to myself.  Instead of  reciting the list of a gazillion things I needed to do, I could say to me, "enjoy today, enjoy wrapping these paintings up to mail, enjoy adding a couple of treats to the package.  No need to run off in a thousand directions at once.  If one thing gets done well today, that's all that matters.

In the afternoon I spoke with a woman who is training to be a monk.  When I asked her how that was going for her, the response was interesting.  "Well, I'm learning to listen more."  And as she clarified what that meant for her, I heard her saying that what it really meant was being less "me" centred, learning to be open and hear what other people need and follow through on that.  Not from a self sacrificing place, not from a place of aren't I wonderful and giving, but from that place that Beck talks about of "shifting our preoccupation from ourselves to life itself."  A wonderful and freeing position, don't you think?


  1. Love it! Yes, my head nods... I see this too.

    Awareness... Mindfulness... Patience...

    Isn't it fun how Life brings us the insight we need! :)