Last week, I meditated for the first time in a month. That’s not bad for me these days. I first seriously sat in meditation eight years ago today, on May 31, 2013, and have gone through phases of daily or nearly-daily meditation and these days it’s a box that goes unchecked for weeks at a time. As Kurt Vonnegut said: So it goes.
Last week, though, I sat in meditation. After a couple of minutes, I realized I hadn’t actually chosen a point of focus and so when I noticed planful thoughts arise – meditation taught me early that most frequently, my thoughts are in some way planful, which, in me, is the pretend pragmatism of perfectionism – I labeled them and invited them to move on but had nothing to return myself to.
A phrase came to mind, one I learned five or six years ago when I was participating in one of the Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra meditation collaborations. Since I can’t find the Sanskrit phrase by my transliterated attempts to confirm the words, I’ll stick with the English translations as I remember it: “I open myself to wholeness.”
At the time, I heard it as, “I open myself to the good stuff in life and in myself.” It would take me a long while to recognize the obvious and annoying truth that wholeness isn’t just the pretty stuff, and longer still to start practicing accepting what I was actually opening myself to – wholeness, as in all of my messy human complexity – which is still very much a work in progress, especially when I’m in the thick of my least favorite parts of life and myself.
On my cushion last week, I felt something in me reaching back to that Sanskrit phrase and so it became my focus for the day. I attached the words to my breath, breathing in and out with the repetition of this idea of wholeness. As I did, the planful thoughts continued to arise and at first I swatted them away like flies and then a few rough memories arose and I remembered: These, too, are a part of wholeness.
And so I stopped swatting and instead remembered to acknowledge and return to my focus, remembered to practice accepting that all of it could be there at the same time and, in fact, was all there at the same time and that no amount of wishing my mind or my meditation were otherwise would make them so.
Somewhere in there, I heard, “I hate this,” as in, I hate having to accept wholeness and that, too, is a part of wholeness.
I don’t want this to be the work of creating our biggest lives and baddest selves. Happily, accepting the uncomfortable, even painful, parts of wholeness, isn’t all of the work. To me, though, it’s the most challenging and allusive bit, this part part where we say, “Yes, this, too.”
Yes, distracted thoughts, too.
Yes, judging thoughts, too.
Yes, anger, too.
Yes, pain, too.
Yes, to wholeness.
Yes, I will practice being with it all, with all of me.