I was having a heated disagreement with my partner and in the thick of it, I realized how silly and inadequate words can be, not to mention ineffectual. In fact, when I stepped back and witnessed my dynamic, I recognized that I have sang this song for what feels like my entire life, if not eons, way before I met her. This common song has a “name that tune” recognition. Anyone who gets close to my heart is likely to not only name this tune but, if I’m lucky, predict when it will play and stay away.
In that moment, it rang true in me that words would not and could not scratch the unnerving and unreachable itch I was experiencing, and my thoughts weren’t helping either. For example, as the conversation became more intense, I thought: I need space! With more intensity I thought: I want to get as far away from her as possible. With even more intensity I thought: Who needs this! I’m done! This is over! I’m moving back to California. It seemed that talking and thinking were moving me further away from what was real and the connection I so desired. If talking about it doesn’t help, and thinking about it doesn’t help, where does this leave me? Well, the short answer is: With myself! So back to the meditation cushion I go.
As I began to turn my attention inward, I could feel the raw righteousness of rage—an intense constriction of fire in my upper body around my heart. I was unequivocally right about how wrong she was. At the same time, I was asking: How do I give myself a break from this karmic tune?
I continued to focus on my breath, not giving much attention to my judgments but more the spaces in between them. After a while, I began to rest in an experience of vast inner spaciousness—a space of deep knowing, where I was not “looking for the answer.” I was the answer. I recalled a saying my beloved teacher Abala shared: To Be or Not To Be! Is not the question. It’s the answer! I was having an experience of this truth in the moment. It was then that I realized I wanted to be well more than I wanted to be right.
As I rested in this spacious awareness and intention, I began to have glimpses of pure love. At times it actually took my breath away. I was frightened and distrustful of its penetrating presence at first, but I could not deny its power. These glimpses increased bringing warmth and wholesome energy to the moment. There was harmony and completeness within me that was not dependent on what she said or did. I was whole! I was space itself!
In this place of deep knowing, I could choose where I placed my attention. This was more than a notion to contemplate: I was having an experience of choice from the inside as there was more space and light to see. My anger and worries were tiny specks compared to the goodness I am made of and the goodness I am here to impart. I felt an inner confidence that no one could give me or take away. Most surprising was that I didn’t have to work at this—I simply had to open to it—it was already predominate within.
And I thought: Hum, it appears that space is how we give ourselves a break! Perhaps when we say we need space, what we really need is to surrender to the spacious nature of ourselves. We don’t need to leave a person, place of situation. Instead we get still and open to our spacious nature and rest there. And just maybe we give ourselves a break when we stop over identifying with our thoughts and feelings and open to what will uniquely emerge in between the traumas and dramas of our lives.
Through this experience I realize that my karmic tune is both challenging and transformable. My commitment to resting in my own skin over rides hate. My commitment to seeing everyone as human holds me accountable to a visible practice of love and an intentional practice of forgiveness. When I open to spacious awareness, I recognize my nature as compassion and kindness—no matter the circumstances.
Life offers us many opportunities to rest the constriction of our convictions in spacious awareness: When the birds stop singing, the space is empty. When there is loss, the space is empty. When the bell stops ringing, the space is empty. At the end of an exhale, the space is empty. When the arguing ceases, the space is empty. Within the empty and often unfamiliar space is a peaceful knowing that awaits you and informs what’s next!
The resolution to the conflict with my partner was not to bring our karmic songs together and change our tunes through talking, or to separate from each other and continue our mental wars for lifetimes to come. The break I gave to the consternation I was experiencing was a mental recommitment to myself to dance to her karmic tune with more grace and compassion, to be less judgmental, hopeful and fearful, to focus on her goodness and our humanness, and to see the world and all beings in her eyes.
Why take this approach? When I’m open and spacious, we have more of an opportunity to create the unthinkable and open to the unknowable.
Feel free to comment on this story and/or share when you have softened one of your constricting convictions.
©Ruth King, 2009