November 21, 2023

Presence: Our True Nature.

My husband, Craig, was a meditator.

He made it look easy to pop out of our bed early in the morning and sit lotus-style on his cushion. He’d wrap a soft shawl around his shoulders, close his eyes, and sit for at least an hour. No hoopla, no ritual or ceremony; he didn’t light a candle or burn incense.

Me? Despite his gentle nudging, at this time, I had absolutely no interest in meditating. I’d roll over and snuggle in and fall back asleep, waiting for him to finish and put the coffee on.

When I met and married Craig, I was struggling emotionally with unresolved childhood trauma. Years later, I realized that my resistance to meditation was my fear of being alone with my thoughts and emotions. I was in pain, and the only thing I wanted was to escape that pain.

Craig wanted to fix it; he wanted to make my suffering disappear. However, he knew he was powerless to do so. What he could and did do was to love me unconditionally, making it safe for me to just be me–no agenda, no expectations, no pressure. He trusted that I’d find my way. He became my beacon of hope.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ~ Gautama Buddha

The Direct Experience of Presence

Still, Craig continued to gently nudge. Meditation allowed him the direct experience of Presence, which offered true inner peace. And naturally he wanted me to experience this as well.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

But my journey had a destination and it wasn’t to experience Presence. My goal was to rid myself of this ongoing emotional burden. Meditation seemed counterintuitive. I was sure that the peace I was seeking would come once I unloaded the oppressive baggage.

One of the many things that brought us together was our love for the spiritual work of teachers such as Ram Dass, Papaji, and Sri Ramana Maharshi. We attended workshops and lectures and read their books, which lead to many supportive and inspiring conversations.

All these teachers spoke of the beauty and power of Presence. They said Presence was all there was, that it was our true nature. They urged students to create a daily practice of silence and meditation.

Detaching from Making the Pain Disappear

So eventually, I conceded and finally tried meditating. I love ceremony and ritual, so I lit candles and incense. I put on soft music and purchased a Back Jack and beautiful, soft cushions. I found the perfect shawl. And I sat–sometimes for as long as 15 minutes but usually no more than 10. There was no relief.

In fact, my pain became more acute, nearly unbearable. But I didn’t give up. I didn’t always understand what the teachers were saying, but my heart knew there was truth there and that this truth was the key to my freedom.

Of course, what I learned over time was that my pain didn’t go away because I was attached to making it disappear. Realizing this was like finding that missing piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle–once I shifted my awareness, I began to see that the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel was Divine energy, not a train.

“Nonresistance, nonjudgement, and nonattachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Freedom was within grasp and this was exciting. I immersed myself in this work and promised to share what I was learning with anyone who was interested in a life of emotional freedom. And so here I am today, sharing this with you.

It has been decades of work and the rewards are innumerable. My beloved husband transitioned out of his physical body some years ago, but his legacy lives on. Just as life goes on. There are still challenges; it’s called life. But, thanks to my mindfulness practice of body awareness meditation, I have the tools to help me move through the difficult times.

Peace is found within the storm. This is living life on life’s terms. And it is a blessing.


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