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just a breath away

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Just back from a weekend at the monastery, where I sat on a cushion or chair for hours, didn’t speak to anyone, helped in the kitchen, ate meals out of wooden bowls, chanted in English, Pali, and Japanese, woke up around 4 am and didn’t get to bed till close to 10 at night.

For the first ten hours of that I was busy daydreaming, fantasizing, fabricating, worrying, and watching my mind doing useless acrobatics. Then late at night, well past worry about stiff legs and aching back, something happened, if even for a moment. For the duration of several breaths I sank into a vivid awareness of my physical body, followed each breath into the fibre of my being, noted tense spots and soft areas, letting go – o miracle – of wandering thoughts; sank past wanting to get anywhere, greeted sensations and feelings as they passed by, fell deeper and deeper into successive waves of being-alive, witnessing nothingness while being fully awake.

I came back to “normal,” back to wandering mind and obscured awareness. That’s to be expected. Yet a full day later I remain refreshed by the realization that light resides within darkness. Nothing profound perhaps — except that for someone prone to depressive swings, welcome evidence of spaciousness residing a mere breath-length away from everyday chaos.