In my experience of studying my mind, I have noticed that there are skeletons and old demons hidden within the depths of my consciousness waiting to be seen and greeted intimately—to be acknowledged and reverently bowed towards.
Though it can be difficult and dirty work at times, I feel my body waver and expand outwards after diving into something my mind tells me to avoid at all cost. Old rusted shackles are lifted and the sudden rush of clarity that comes is fresh and bright.
In these instances, I also feel more ready and able to reach out and touch another’s life too, without the heaviness of wondering whether I should act a certain way, or speak more quietly. This entering into “mask-less-ness” is something worth looking into.
I like to watch myself deal with something rough and jagged regardless of my state of being.
There is an opportunity there for growth, a chance to learn how to be more “here” for life. Sometimes I am the seemingly positive one and sometimes not. Either way, my appreciation of both extremes leads to an ordinary acceptance of the life that is here.
I remember recently locking my car at the gym and listening for the natural “beep” that accompanies the lock, letting me know all is well and safe. Immediately after hearing the noise, an irritated looking man yelled to me in a high-pitched, slightly feminine voice, “Thank you for sharing your noise pollution with the entire world!”
I couldn’t do anything but smile. The blue sky, a caressing breeze and this man ready to charge in and save all the whales made for an exceptionally perfect instance of reality. I continued to smile and all I could utter to him as I walked past was, “Thank you sir!” He didn’t seem prepared for my unexpected gratitude and so the moment melted naturally into the rest of time.
And yet a few weeks later, as I was driving home and pondering the relevance of prehistoric mammoth hunting in modern day marathon trail running, I had a different kind of encounter.
A group of elderly gentlemen were crossing the street. I stopped fairly close to them and watched as one man eyed me with a grimace. I could feel my body tense and I was hooked into having some sort of altercation. He walked over to my window—staring all the while—and I rolled it down, proudly declaring, “What? I stopped. . . you’re still here.”
He seemed taken aback by the harshness of my speech and said, “Oh I know, I just thought you looked like someone I recognized is all.”
This encounter pushed me back into my practice and reminded me to watch the rushing mind and its ways with care. Letting the exchange go by without diving into my mind, or quieting the myriad excuses, would just be another way to enforce the masks—something that would deaden my relationship with the world as it continues to morph and change moment after moment.
Acknowledging the loaded nature of my mind in that moment, I headed towards openness and allowed the heaviness of my thought-filled mind to dissipate into a kind of awareness that was prepared to flow with what was here. Whether I have already succumbed to my thoughts or I am about to, this is the activity: letting go and non-judgmentally coming back to now no matter the situation.
A calm appreciation for the interplay between a meditatively free state of being and the perpetuation of a rigidly set and emotionally obtuse mind is fun and essential to finding the balance inherent within all experiences.
The two examples above stemmed from recent exchanges in my life and both are equally important. It’s interesting to peel away the layers of who I think I am, or what I think is going to happen and instead, just allowing what is to be as it is. Doing the dirty work and learning to be more free during my daily encounters with what comes streaming out of nowhere leads to a spontaneously deeper, more profound relationship with life.
I might thank someone for spilling red wine on my dress shirt, or roar at a passing Golden Eagle. These actions, undertaken through vastness and thus released freely into the world without any strings or masks attached, melt freely into the rest of time.
I am often struck by the perfection around me in nature. Life is given and taken away in a swirling motion without any commentary. It could be an interesting experience to attempt to let this all-encompassing acceptance into one’s life.
There might be a chance for freedom in watching the clouds pass and bending down to touch the grass.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas