Thursday, 8 May 2008
Learning to be here - II
The second session of the MBSR course was this week. We did another Body Scan, some sitting meditation and discussed our experiences of practicing over the previous week. I did not, as in the first session, confront physical pain. I did, though, continue to feel challenged by a crowded and demanding social situation whose essential purpose and content mean that my habitual coping strategies of 'shutting down' or coasting through with minimal participation will not do - and this at the end of a working day, when my resources are depleted.
Mmm. This is harder than I thought it would be. Harder, for me at any rate, to be here in this context than to attend my lovely, silent, austere Buddhist meditation retreats - though those are challenging in their own way. I suspect it will therefore be all the more useful, if I can stick with it, but comfortable it's not. Being mindful of one's wretched, messy, suffering self, whilst hard up against a lot of other people's similarly, but differently, wretched, messy... ouch!
How hard it is came home to me again the following day, when I met rr for lunch and knitting. Creator of a whole family of socks, as well as of many other gorgeous things, she'd come to show me how to turn the heel on my first sock. Attempting to be mindful and to watch one's negative habits whilst knitting one's first sock is not quite earth-shattering on the scale of things, but one's first anything at my advanced age is not easy. Well, actually, it's not so much my age (I reflect, as I knit... 6, 7, 2 together... ach, I've lost count, how many stitches did you say?). I've always found learning anything new and even slightly challenging excruciatingly difficult, so painful and frustrating, so demanding of a willingness to be present and patient that I do not have.
I'm ashamed to think of all the things I've given up on learning, or avoided even starting to learn. It's a sorry tale, highlighting over and over, in contexts small and large, the place where I am broken. And giving attention to the place where I am broken is painful. Fifty years down the line from the day I got broken, turned and faced away from life because I 'couldn't bear' to put my toys away, is it too late to mend, even a little bit? Such portentous thoughts while knitting a sock would be sad if they weren't hilarious, and quite impossible to prolong without the sock going horribly wrong...