I was going to take a break from writing, as it’s been another flat and challenging week. Inspiration has felt a little out of reach so what could I possibly share that would be of benefit to others.
One rainy morning while the others at home were sleeping I took refuge in meditation for the first time in a few days. Beginning with a body scan I realized that my face felt stiff and lifeless, so I decided to practice with a smile. When the lips crease into a smile, the eyes naturally soften and it sends an awakening spark to the mind for sure. When the agitated mind has nothing to cling onto, it too softens.
It reminded me that a good practice is putting a little love into discipline. Love being a verb. When there is love in the mix, any discipline is more fulfilling. Smiling definitely helps to activate this. Even if you feel that you have to force it in the beginning, it will still have a healthy effect. Whether the discipline you are exercising is a spiritual quest or a mundane task, smile with it. Whether you are feeling your buoyant self or your shadow self, smile with it.
When walking down the road consumed by wanting conditions to be different, we see more suffering and injustices than can possibly be digested, so we suffer more. The same as when we are in love and feel electrically charged and blessed, we will see love in everyone and everything. Each moment and breath can feel like a gift or a miracle.
There is no question that the need to find the up side of any situation is simply in my DNA. My father would always tell us to seek the good that can be derived out of any circumstance. If a nugget of positivity is obscured, I'll tend to go to any length to find it.
When I fail to find a positive edge, I lean towards seeking gratitude for the teaching. That doesn't always help me stave off the impact of negative residuals. It's exhausting. Sometimes we can reason in the moment but what cost are we willing to pay to be always positive? Energetically I feel the work to stay positive since the beginning of 2020 has aged me 10 years.
I was reading an article by a therapist named Hala Khouri that really spoke to me. She too, is considered a quintessential happy person. She addressed her search for the up side of life as somewhat manufactured positivity with over-understanding. She was optimistic because she learned to bypass the negative, and it came at a price. We had many similarities. She made me question whether my pursuit to be positive was to avoid experiencing pain. I'm not convinced it is, but it is a great contemplation. Avoiding our disturbed emotions, like pain, fear, or anger, will feed more to the skeleton in the closet than we may realize. The more we can acknowledge everything that arises with honest respect, the more we can experience freedom to be present with it all. This is my current practice.
When we birth anything in life, we face death of something else. This could be old ways, habits, beliefs. It can be difficult but if we avoid the discomforts, we will also avoid new joy and possibilities. Khouri quoted Khalil Gibran who says that "if we seek only peace and pleasure, then we will live in the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”
I want to taste it all, and feel it all. Thich Nhat Hanh addresses the conscious mind as our living room and the subconscious mind or storage mind as our basement. He says in the west we really like to keep all the pleasantries and beauty in our living room and stuff the troubled elements in the cellar with a triple lock on the door. However, as emotions are formless they can still show up uninvited in our living room and create tremendous havoc. His resolve is to leave the door open and when something show up, address it openly. "hello old friend."
So from my living room of mixed company to yours.. with a smile, let's put love in the mix.