Live from retreat!
Well, OK, I’m not exactly “live”.
I just arrived home after my four minute drive from the retreat house I rent when I run a retreat, to my little cottage in Lake Forest Park, Washington.
I noticed an excited question pop into my mind and heart as I drove home. It’s a question that’s been in my awareness before.
What is “waiting”?
This particular retreat I’m facilitating has a focus and invitation on eating peace. We gather for 6 days and 5 nights in total (and we’re not complete yet).
We’ve just had a marvelous and full 12 hour day, and everyone sleeping at the retreat house are tucking themselves in soon, perhaps a few participants soaking in the hot tub with the bright sliver of January moon glowing above.
In session, we do a lot of meditations on eating. I say words out loud, and often questions.
Today, I said out loud a variation on question four specific to our situation.
“If you were an alien from another planet, or an angel, and just landed here on earth in a human body sharing a meal with a whole entire human group sitting around a huge, long oak dining room table….
….what or who would you be without your food or eating stories?
If you had no upsetting, agonizing, condemning stories about eating, food, what’s right, or what’s wrong…and no reference for them?
I know it’s a huge question. The mind answers “I don’t know!”
I also notice I feel the body when I answer this question. I feel the chair I’m seated in, I hear the sounds of birds, the distant hum of a seaplane, the click of fork on plate.
I notice all is very well indeed with this moment. Nothing more required. Nothing magical or fancy, to access peace.
And there is a wonder about this state of being: No Waiting.
I notice the most fascinating thing about slow, mindful eating (which we always do at Eating Peace Retreat):
Stressful thoughts arise.
They go something like this, and I know them because I’ve lived them, and I also hear them when participants share after each meal: it’s going soooooo slow, I can’t stand this, Grace (that would be their version of me) is trying to control me, she must like watching people suffer, this is torture, I can’t take it another minute, I’m so hungry I just want to eat everything as fast as possible, I’ll never be able to do this on my own in my daily life, I just can’t be trusted, eating peacefully is too hard.
We don’t think this only about food and eating.
I’ve noticed the exact same thoughts about anything I believe is slowing down when it first begins to slow down. It’s not the norm. It’s not what I’m used to. There isn’t enough time. This HAS TO get done.
I need to be in a future moment, not this one, when I’m satisfied, and happy, and not upset, and not waiting anymore.
Can’t we do something else?
This moment here is actually quite unbearable. It’s empty, painful, lonely, vacant, boring, slow, stupid. I have other more important things to do. Seriously.
You might be able to imagine having these thoughts while standing in line. Or dreaming of your new job. Or your new lover. Or wanting to become enlightened. LOL.
The process of “waiting”.
Thank goodness for The Work.
Find your moment of “torture”. The moment when you’re waiting.
You can’t stand another minute. You absolutely must hit the escape hatch. The energy is boiling inside.
Is it true “this is torture?”
YES! Oh the agony! So agitating!
Are you absolutely sure? Can you know it’s true?
Um. Well, heh heh. I do notice there’s nothing really happening here except silence, people standing in line, a sense of waiting, some kind of urgency appearing in my torso.
But an emergency? Suffering? Torture? Frustration?
Not absolutely true.
How do you react when you believe you can’t stand holding still, and the world is moving slowly (in your opinion)?
I try to force it to change.
I push forward, imagine jumping the line, I huff and scowl. I tell the people around me my story of what a pain this is.
Or I begin to feel sorry for myself. I guess I just have to put up with this pain in life. So inconvenient, nothing I can do. I’m trapped, stuck and sorry for myself. Inside, I lie on the floor and give up. Kind of.
Who would you be without this thought that you are waiting for something? That something better is going to happen? That you’re going to get somewhere? That this moment will be done soon, thank goodness?
Who would you be without your story of waiting for Some Other Thing or for This To End, right now in this moment?
Perhaps nothing would change at all about this moment. It would still be quiet, there would be a long line, or slow eating, or a room with chairs full of people in it and a “take a number” sign, or one human sitting in a chair meditating, or the doing of errands, cleaning, working, moving….
….but what I notice is there is a beautiful alertness that comes alive, in a joyful way. No future moment. No scarcity here. No waiting for the better (or worse) moment, yet paradoxically still a sweet thrill, a happy anticipation, a love of what surrounds me.
Turning the thought around: There is no need to wait. In my thinking, there’s waiting, and only in my thinking. This is paradise, not torture. I am safe in this moment here.
What do you love or find interesting or fascinating about this moment? What strikes up your curiosity? If this was a fabulous moment offered just for you, where everything in your life had led to this “now”, how could that be true?
I notice I love watching people–absolutely incredible creatures and movements. I love space, quiet, physical feeling, hearing. I notice there is abundance of things everywhere–table, chairs, dishes, window, light, brown wood, sky, trees stretching up, floor.
I notice there is movement, energy, activity, sounds, sights, smells, focus, thoughts. I notice I am OK. Better than OK, I am so curious, safe, comfortable, interested, awake.
Without the belief I have to wait….I love this moment so much.
The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance. They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water. Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
~ Tao Te Ching #15 Translated by Stephen Mitchell
“I am not waiting, I am just here.” ~ Mooji