Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
I met with my meditation instructor this past week, and during our discussion about something else, she inadvertently gave me insight into a bigger issue I’d been contemplating, struggling with.
I’ve talked about it before: I have trouble staying on a middle path. I practice and live too tight–work too hard, try to do too much, smash myself to bits–and because of that, I end up collapsing into practicing too loose–exhaustion, numbness, depression, and smashing myself to bits, (notice how I can work that in no matter what end of the pendulum swing I’m in?).
I have been on a mission to “fix” myself, to change, to break out of old habits that no longer serve me, a life-rehab, but my approach has been a lot of the same old, same old. And is it really about changing, becoming someone new, someone else? Do I need another self-improvement strategy, another self-help plan? Another diet, another book, another workshop or class?
The reminder from my M.I. is that instead of grasping or searching for something else, anything more, I could try sinking deeper into my practice, the wisdom that’s already with me.
For example, instead of reading six books at the same time, rushing through so fast I barely remember it once it’s over because there’s a long list of ones that I have to get to right after, I could try reading one, maybe more than once, really know it, savor it. Or instead of training to be a yoga teacher, I could remain a practitioner, sinking in and truly embodying the practice, learning the full measure of what it has to teach. Or, instead of filling most of my week with regularly scheduled blog features, I could spend more time writing, straight from my heart, exactly where I am. I could remember the importance of naps and staring at my toes. I could connect with reality.
As Susan Piver so brilliantly shared in her Huffington Post article, Meditation, Relaxation, and the Self-Help Demon, “stop, slow down, look within and allow for both your brilliance and your brokenness.”
If we are looking for or saying “yes” to one thing, we are essentially saying “wait” or even “no” to something else, maybe what we’ve already committed to, what we’ve already found, who we already are.
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön
I was rereading the above quote, and realized I should try and memorize it, make it a true mantra–anytime I feel the pull to try something new, to push myself, anytime I feel like I am not good enough, anytime I am beating myself up for some supposed failure or mistake, every time I wish I were something other than I am, somewhere or sometime other than right where I am, I could repeat it to myself, remind myself.
Or maybe the simple, gentle reminder to relax is enough?
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
~ Mary Oliver