Diving back into my Zen studies this year (a hilarious concept really as you can ‘study Zen’ you just need to ‘be Zen’, but I do still love to study everything as a learning process), taught me a lot about being with something rather than escaping it.
This year I have grappled endlessly with trying to sit with my emotions, and observe them rather than feel guilty for even having them. It’s sticky business sitting in the shit stuff I can tell you that. Recognising our own human-ness and being okay with it. I spent a week alone in mostly silence and meditation (7 hours a day) with my Zen teacher, and as I was sleeping on the floor in the dojo in the middle of Winter (I can honestly say I have never been so cold and alone), I was terrified of all the spiders creeping about. One night I killed a huntsman that wasn’t even that big, and the grief I felt was so profound, and after crying and putting it’s little limp body in the garden, I sat grappling with my need for my own perception of safety, and my own fears that resulted in the killing of something so innocent. Sure, on one hand it was just a spider, but for me it represented patterns and behaviours of the need to put myself first, my own fears and stamp out anything that didn’t align. I explained this to my teacher the next morning, and embarrassingly burst into tears over the spider.
She said to me, and I could tell she was really sad about the spider, so my grief was even more vivid that the best way to handle a spider is to look upon it and say ‘you are welcome here’. It seemed to work, and there was enough spiders to practice on, and I realised this was to be my phrase for all my emotional spiders too, that ‘you are welcome here’. Rather than attempt to stamp them out, just let them be, slightly over there, doing their thing. That I didn’t need to fear them, resent them, but rather just be with them. Try this out, ‘you are welcome here’ with anything you fear or feel shouldn’t be present, and observe the shift.
(I took this photo on a rainy day a week ago, when Arran and I had the whole day to ourselves just the two of us, and had grand plans for this special day, yet then it rained us out. I had to witness my frustration and resentment, that ‘I deserve this’ and ‘I can’t believe it’ as our beautiful little day together morphed into something else. We moved from an outdoors day into an indoors day, to discover the movies we wanted to were not on locally, the restaurant we wanted to eat at fully booked, and ended up at the worst table possible in another place. I had to get really serious with ‘you are welcome here’ and then thankfully also I have Arran, who rarely views anything as a problem, and told me to lighten the hell up. We also walked in the pouring rain to see this amazing ocean pool built around a huge boulder. Where we stood under a rock shelf while it rained, and my raging mind went still, and my heart pounded as I was so grateful that I have someone so grounded as Arran, to share all of this with in the first place. It was a brilliant reminder of sitting with the sticky stuff, and then moving into that which is more expansive).