This weekend I attended a program called Social Meditation and Awakened Community with my meditation teacher, Shastri Nick Kranz, at the Toronto Shambhala Centre.
One of the exercises we did involved being out in nature where we were invited to choose an item to look at, really look at, and then to continue looking when we began to notice boredom creeping in.
I chose this leaf, intrigued by the delicate lacy beauty of it, even in decay. I was surprised at how long I was able to stay with it, but eventually, I did find myself wanting to look away, more intrigued by the sounds of distant barking and laughter coming from a nearby ballgame. I noticed the irritation in my body and returned my attention to the leaf. Again and again. As I recommitted my attention each time, I noticed a letting go and an opening in my body where the irritation had been.
So many shades of brown! It’s so delicate! Wait. Was there just one leaf? It appeared so, but it also appeared that at one time there might have been two, entwined around the same stem!
At the end of our program we were asked to share an aspiration around the the theme of “It would be brave for me to…”
Mine went something like this: Just as the delicate lacy decaying leaf had more to show me when I kept looking long after I wanted to look away, it would be brave for me to continue looking at the person or situation in front me when I want to look away, as they too have wisdom to share that is just as valuable as my own.
As luck (and aspiration practice) would have it, I soon got an opportunity to practice not looking away, not holding so tightly to my own experience, and staying open to and curious about another’s. I wish I could say it was a piece of cake and I rocked it, but it wasn’t and I didn’t.
Now, it would be brave for me to hold that experience gently, not looking away from it, recognizing how difficult all of this is for all of us, including me, and gently recommit to keep trying, to keep showing up, willing to be soft and open, willing to feel shaky and vulnerable and to not know, willing to feel the sadness and the joy that comes with being willing to grow, being willing to be brave.