(Further to yesterday’s post on self-care.) The question What is this? washed through me all day. Spent the afternoon at the cancer clinic, assisting patients and staff with chemotherapy. Watched how others respond to being cared for: some stoically quiet, many expressing gratitude. From there to another volunteer job, hosting a weekly meditation group for people in various stages of dementia. Noticed (and shared!) unabashed displays of joy in being fussed over, flirted with, greeted with respect and affection.
Somewhere between what I do for others and what I’ve now arranged to have done for me, there’s a disconnect. Just listen to the Inner Critic: you don’t deserve being cared for; you’re being selfish hiring a physical trainer; if your Zen practice were any good you’d have sorted this out by now. My teachers assure me that these are mere voices. Welcome them for what they are. Say hello to them, then let them drift away as easily as they arose. Don’t follow them in your mind.
It occurred to me before, and again today. Instead of letting thoughts and sensations come and go, I tend to hold on to them, name them, deal with them. Only when I sink deeper — as in meditation … bypassing thinking mind and entering pure sensation — is truth revealed. I say truth for lack of another description* as it has no name, no this or that, no good or bad, no worthy and unworthy.
“Be gentle with yourself. Be kind with yourself. You may not be perfect, but you are all you have to work with. The process of becoming who you will be begins first with the total acceptance of who you are.”
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (b. 1927), Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, teaches widely, abbot of a meditation retreat center in West Virginia. In: (1994). Mindfulness in plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
* In Zen Buddhism the word is tathata (Sanskrit), commonly translated as “thusness” or “suchness:” expressing appreciation of the true nature of reality in any given moment.