First, I turn my attention within,
to my own being.
Like a sailor scanning the horizon
for anything worth noting,
I look around inside
for any sensation
that might be seeking my attention.
I am not on a mission to find anything.
I’m just looking, sensing, exploring,
open to connecting with all that lives
in the vast ocean within.
If nothing greets me right away,
I take a few breaths.
But it rarely takes long
before undercurrents start revealing themselves,
a feeling of fullness in the belly,
the lively beat of my heart,
a sense of tightness
in the chest.
Tuning in is the most important thing.
Once I do, I am off
with life force as the wind
Learning to befriend life is simple.
It just requires tuning in and receiving.
Friendship is all about quality connection. And befriending life is about connecting with what is alive within us by directing awareness inward, paying attention to our inner and outer body, and noticing whatever sensations, emotions, thoughts most draw awareness, moment-to-moment.
I listen within, in an open-focus and receptive state, and I rest my attention with the ‘loudest’ sensation that seeks my attention… it may be specific, somewhere in the body, or diffuse, everywhere. If ideas or worries come to mind, or strong emotions surface, I don’t ignore them or push them away: I connect with them by feeling the physical or energetic sensations I experience in relation to them. I keep tracking what naturally draws my awareness, and I ‘meet it’ by giving it my full attention with no agenda or expectation that it should change. I just stay with it, until it naturally evolves of its own, or something more pressing comes to my awareness. That’s it. That’s the whole practice right there. I let life show me where to direct my attention, and I follow.
… but not easy
Although simple, it’s not always easy, because the sensations that draw our attention, when we are open and receptive, can often be uncomfortable. Whatever we have been trying to avoid, suppress, or control will eventually come up, and in those moments, it’s tempting to ‘disconnect’ from body sensations in order to reach for some sort of coping strategy. In my case, this can look like eating comfort foods, surfing the web, or getting really busy. So, I have learned a Rumi poem, and these few lines from the Radiance Sutras, to remind myself to practice welcoming whatever comes.
Abandon this attitude
of wanting to prolong pleasure
and avoid suffering.
Let the heart be itself
and feel whatever is there.
Freed from clinging and avoiding,
the heart regains its poise,
and revels in creation.
Plunging deep into its center,
discover that the heart
is moved by a pulse
that is everywhere.
The Radiance Sutras
practicing anywhere, anytime!
I ‘tune in’ with eyes open, or closed, while I am sitting, lying down, walking, writing, singing, talking with others…as I’m waking up, sitting down for a meal, or falling asleep. Connecting with life force does not require any particular ‘form,’ and it can be done anywhere and anytime. Here is more about my solo practice and explorations, as well as my meditative adventures with others. You can find more poems on Learning to Linger and Soundcloud.