Posted to the Pagan Blog Project 2014, week "E"
We live immersed in the busy-ness of the world. Too often we are swept up in this busy-ness beyond our capacity to cope. This is the beginning of anxiety, which leads to other things later on, like lack of focus, inattention and possibly depression. We become fearful and anxious in all areas of our lives. Coming daily from a place of fear causes us to doubt ourselves and our decisions and abilities; our home life and work begin to suffer. The guilt about our perceived failures causes shame...the negativity just snowballs out of control. We feel as though we've not only let ourselves down, but others who have come to depend on us doing our share for the greater good.
Buddhist teaching labels this as an illusion. It is we who create anxiety from a small kernel of truth and guilt which leads to sorrow within ourselves. We panic and allow the negativity generated from our fears to wash over us and color our thinking with despair. The Buddha teaches that not only is this an illusion, it is a misunderstanding of impermanence and attachments.
Swept up in the busy-ness of the world, we loose sight of the truth that change is inevitable. It is constant. Nothing stays the same in the flow of the Universe, and so we cannot hold tight to persons or situations as they are this minute, hour or day. We cannot hold on to them at all. Try to hold water in one hand for very long...it is impossible, the water runs off.
The only constant in life is that change takes place regularly. Immersed as we are in the chaos around us, we fail to see that we have ceased to flow with the river and instead are caught in an uncontrollable vortex which drags us down in a spiral of negativity until we drown.
I have these days,too. In our current society most of us are afraid to stop being busy, lest it be seen as a negative character flaw. (After all, if we aren't busy, the lack of activity just might mean we are lazy -or worse yet-shirking our duty!) What has worked for me is to empty myself from the attachment of busy-ness. A close examination of the situation usually leads to stopping the behavior which causes me distress, that is, that I step away from the business that is sucking away at what is good and right for me. At times that has meant getting rid of what no longer serves to nourish my soul, so I can focus on the things that do. I stop saying "yes" when I should say "no" to others. I make more time for myself.
Emptying myself makes me feel lighter. I find that disengaging from certain activities-even for just a little while-allows me to feel less weighed down and entangled. I am able to quiet the chatter in my head and allow things to simply flow along like they should just by taking a few minutes a day to sit in silence. Visualization helps; focusing on a spot on the floor in front of me, the flame of a candle, or gazing into a cracked glass orb. The point is to focus on something outside yourself so your thoughts slow and clarify. Eventually I feel myself begin to detach from worries and urgency. This is a good way for me to let go of attachments and remind myself that the world is an impermanent place.
This form of meditation is also good for preparing me to do ritual and magick. When I have emptied myself of the things of the mundane, I have a much stronger focus for whatever I wish to accomplish magickally. I believe emptying yourself through meditation is a beneficial form of ritual cleansing.
One of my favorite things to do a few years ago was to drive down to Battery Park, cup of coffee in hand, just before dawn and watch the sun rise over the Delaware River. The darkness would eventually give way to muted streaks of blues and purples which became increasingly lighter until the orange jewel of the sun popped just above the horizon to flood the sky and water with golden light.
I would stay until the seagulls sleeping on the rail of the pier would awaken and fly off. Focusing on the simple act of watching the sun rise emptied me all of the stress and worry I was going through at the time while being a caregiver for a dying relative. That few moments of emptiness was a precious gift from the Universe, and I reveled in the the daily renewal, so much so that when I moved from the area I missed going to the river's edge to see the sun rise every morning it left me a little sad and feeling incomplete.
Once again applying Buddhist principles, I realized I had not only formed what was a habit-abet a healthy one- but an attachment to the very act which gave me so much relief. The realization that this attachment existed allowed me to let go of it. The resulting emptiness opened my mind for fresh insight and enlightenment to take place: The sun rises everywhere with the same beauty. While that seems like such a silly thing to have to have reminded myself of now, I was also reminded that getting overly caught up in the business of the world causes us to loose focus on life's simple truths. Occasionally we need the reminder because simple truths are often taken for granted and when they are, they loose their grace. Leaving behind the attachment to place allowed this simple truth to manifest, and for it's grace to open the possibility of peace. Moving beyond the comfortable, the emptying of the familiar made way for limitless possibility. Possibility gives us the hope and a reason to seek authentic fulfillment of the self.