Be present, still the mind, and focus on the breath. These words were incredibly helpful over the last 5 days as I sat on the meditation cushion and brought in the new year. In the last few years I’ve turned to meditation following events that seemed challenging at the time – a love affair gone awry, my former partner exiting our relationship, and now cancer. Each meditation retreat has been difficult and powerful (for example, I often describe my first mediation retreat as one hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done), and this retreat was no exception. It did however challenge me in ways that I hadn’t quite anticipated.
Going into the retreat I assumed that cancer would be a dominant focus, and while I spent time with it and gleaned some insights (for example, to help still my mind I visualized tying a string from my heart to each of the tumour sites, and on my out breath I released them like balloons, thanking them and wishing them well. I also realized that I see cancer as c-answer, where the “c” represents the connections I’m making with myself and others; in essence cancer has been the answer to connecting more deeply), cancer – and my relationship with it – played a relatively minor role.
Instead, the mind repeatedly revisited my previous relationship, reliving moment after moment over several days. It was overwhelming and frustrating. I was thinking: why can’t I still the mind? Why can’t I let this go? The more I tried to let the thoughts go, the more they continued to appear. Eventually I surrendered, allowing myself to grieve the relationship for all that it was, wasn’t, and couldn’t be. I revisited feelings of sadness, anger, remorse, joy, relief and many more. And without condoning the hurtful and painful things said and done (of which we both contributed), I began to let go of the “should haves” and “could haves” and realize that it simply was. I came away with a stronger belief that we did the best we could based on what we had (awareness, experience, tools, etc.), and as I move forward in my life, I hope I will be a bit more kind, compassionate, and understanding – with myself and others – as a result.
So, while the retreat didn’t bring what I had thought or expected (note to self: release your assumptions and expectations), it has brought a bit more lightness and ease. And, as I enter into 2015, I offer trust, surrender, and nourishment to myself and those around me.
May we be filled with loving kindness.
May we be well.
May we be peaceful and at ease.
May we be happy.
~Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation & Blessing
With grace and gratitude,