I just finished a powerful week in the high Alpine with a stunning group of humans. Retreat in the Alpine mountains, 6 days, 6000 ft. You can see photos on my Instagram. Now I'm in Banff teaching a workshop on mindfulness and hiking every day.
Here are a few updates, starting with a letter that was sent out last week in my e-newsletter.
Tonight after I put our 4-year old son Olin to sleep, I meditated under the skylight next to the bed. Carina put Hudson to sleep in another bed down the hall. Aware that the dishes had piled up over the day, I decided to let all domestic tasks go and sit for 30 minutes. At the 30-minute point, ready to get up, I felt the usual build-up of energy around doing evening chores before bed. So I sat another 15-minutes and that’s when some deeper holding started to finally unwind.
We are expecting another baby. Carina is due in December. I feel nervous, joyous, and unsure of what it means being the father of four kids.
While sitting I thought of how many times I’ve heard meditation teachers invite me to open myself to each sensation and become one with them. If you try to escape you will suffer. But it is not so easy to be one with reactivity or stress or even pain because of the embedded associations of our past. Most of us have to go through the painful process of feeling thousands of patterns of reactivity before we can truly open up and be free from our conditioned responses. I learn this again and again.
Suzuki Roshi encouraged people by saying that those who have the most difficulty and see it through will have the most benefit. As soon as an ‘uncomfortable’ feeling arises and we don’t ‘like’ it and don’t ‘want’ it, we form an attachment and begin to suffer. Resisting life is exhausting. In many ways, one can never be completely prepared for a baby. This reminds me of the choreographer Deborah Hay’s injunction, “Start before you’re ready.”
There is no special state of mind to attach to and no special feeling to desire and no special self to hang on to. This can be called Samadhi. It can be found in parenting, everyday activity, and in meditation. It’s the ease that comes when we can open to what’s really going on in and around us, and it’s possible to discover even in situations that make us feel unsure.
Suzuki Roshi said he admired the frog sitting completely still on a rock. When a fly buzzes by, without hesitation the frog’s tongue darts out and catches it. If he likes it, gulp. If not, he spits it out and just keeps sitting. Frogs are really great teachers. So is becoming a parent (again).
In other news, Emilie Lindsten and I collaborated on a new publication called Let the Heat Kill You. Emilie is an artist and has been sharing images on my Instagram this past week of her works, along with previews of the book. Here's an excerpt:
My heart is beating. Your heart is beating. All our hearts are beating. And they are equal. There is a bird out there, on the other side of our window. Her heart is beating so fast. The streetcar hums along, attached to those wires. Those wires run all the way to the nuclear plant. And there are fish swimming around the plant who have little heartbeats and big eyes that always look like they're teary. They are all equal to you.