I heard once that thoughts are your mind breathing. I imagined my mind releasing thoughts like extra energy, so it could be well. This concept helped me come to an arrangement with thoughts that would come, unbidden, in meditation. I could watch them go by, like a car passing on the street in front of me. I didn’t call that car and neither did I tell it to go; I just watched it go past. Enter right, exit left.
Now, meditation is the time to allow thoughts to rise up, unbidden. I wake up in the mornings typically rearing to go, like a horse that has to be held by the reins to stop it from galloping away as it rears up on its hind legs stamping its feet. I want to run and do things. I want to do them right away. I feel urgent in an excited unrestrained type of way and the excitement and demand hurtles me towards the things.
The unbidden thoughts from meditation come seemingly from my chest, float up and crystallize in my mind. They always come one at a time. They are always important. Like, “Oh yeah, I’m so glad I thought of that, because that’s really what I need to do today.” They are not urgent; they have weight and depth. Like dropping a smooth round heavy stone in the middle of a pond. It sinks right down to the bottom and causes ever widening ripples in the water. I’ve found that joy comes when I am living in answer to these things as opposed to those other things.
I have not been getting a lot of sleep lately and have felt a little ragged. I got an 80 minute massage the other day. I set the intention at the beginning to practice letting go of my forced thinking and be open to unbidden thought. To let my mind sweat or breathe. To let my mind be well.
The first thing that came was my daughter and how I massage her little legs and arms at night to help her get to sleep because she has restless limbs like I do. Then, for the first good bit of time, I kept seeing illustrated cats. Cats on a white page, in black ink, in the midst of running across the page. I was surprised. I wanted to laugh or cry. I wanted to reject the images. I kept thinking this has to be the last cat, for goodness sake! But, they kept coming. And, they were entering left, exiting right. This was just my tired mind throwing off thoughts like breath. I could watch these cats go by. It was silly, I could laugh.
Then, in fairly rapid succession, I felt like a flock of geese were biting my neck. It felt very unceremonious. I felt like I should be afforded more dignity than to have such a melee of disorder and squawking. It’s okay to feel silly and out of control, potentially exposed. How I must look! I kept thinking. You can’t win against a flock of attacking geese. I felt a rumbling of laughter deep down in my belly.
Right quickly I transitioned into a grumpy tree with a gnarled thick face. It was hard to move my face and throw off those facial expressions that some of us humans use so well. I felt rooted to the ground (a recurring experience), but at the same time I felt shaken by my limbs by rainstorm and heavy wind. The heavens were ransacking the drawers where I kept the things that are inside of me. Opening and closing the drawers and digging through the contents, just for the sake of shaking things up; because that’s what rains and heavy winds do to a tree. The beginnings of a memory or shame would rise but it would flow out into grumpiness at being jostled so. My roots were deep and my limbs felt strong. In the end, this rain was just a pesky inconvenience.
Then, it was alarming for one moment, but only in my head. I was a corpse, being washed before burial. I felt safe and honored by the living. My body felt like it had a soul that stretched out within it perfectly. I fit inside myself, there were no seams. Then, I was that body rushing through a fast river. I kept looking for fear but it wasn’t there. It just wasn’t there. I felt a thrill at being in the cold rushing water, moving just as fast as it was moving, as though I was a part of it.
I was a part of it.
This post was inspired by the Word Press Daily Prompt for November 29, 2014 “Under the Snow.” The featured image is William Blake’s “Christian Reading In His Book.” An excellent summary of the background of this painting can be found at Interesting Literature. All works by William Blake (1757-1827) are in the public domain.