“The Way to do is to be.”
― Lao Tzu
It's the same routine — early start, coffee and silence — but of course, it's a brand new day.
Am I excited?
No, not really.
I'm here and that's enough.
Previously, with this amount of free time (8/2010-10/2016), I would have made myself very busy. That's not true. As I've said many times we don't will our will — see the work of Arthur Schopenhauer. But whatever force and/or desire and/or passion was at work, it drove me mercilessly on — build a website, splurge some content about, build another email list and that doesn't include all the telephone calls and meetings, virtual or otherwise. Oh, and then there was the public (don't laugh) speaking!
Instead, apart from the few bits of legal work, daily exercise (mostly walking with the family's gorgeous sprocker, Alfie) and reading, I'm doing nothing else apart from
I won't show you my beat-up chair (it's barely holding together), but for the past month, I've abandoned my zafu — or should I say I've stopped using it — and mainly to do with comfort (I caused myself a soft tissue injury to my left knee trying to force myself into a full lotus posture) — I've been using it for my twice-daily meditation practice. But I've also, and this feels important, started to go outside and just sit. Yesterday was no exception and the above picture was the spot where I sat, with my eyes open, to take it all in.
Yes, everything: the sights (I witnessed a hawk being attacked in the sky by two crows which was more than a little captivating if not worrying for all the birds involved in the sky-bound melee), the sounds (sheep, the wind, the slight noise of the A38 and the hedge behind me moving), the smells (sheep shit, grass and nature), the feel of the wind, the warmth of my surroundings, the sun and my bottom on the ground and the full-body sensation of just being present.
Despite the sensations described above, my thinking mind was extraordinarily still.
How could it be otherwise?
I was one with the moment not in a state of reverie but, instead, as if I was no different to, nor separate from, whatever reality I was experiencing. Yes, there were a few labels but my mind was not racing. It did help that Alfie, who was on the lead, sat still for a few minutes, which is unusual!
Call it serendipity but the last thing I watched before I went to bed was John Butler's beautiful talk entitled Natural Meditation which literally could have described my experience of sitting on South Brent Tor — the above picture.
In telling you about my daily practice, am I expecting you to do something similar? No. Your path is yours alone but in sitting still, quietly observing my thoughts and being surrounded by an awareness of my existence and being present, I know that it's a far better use of my time than being the whirling dervish persona that hasn't served me well by dint of the fact that I've felt emotionally not to say spiritually drained in an almost unimaginable way.
Does this mean I'm seeking something?
I don't think so but I might be.
I'm doing what I'm doing because it's what I'm drawn to.
And before you ask, it's not another escape but a drawing in, closer to who I am all body, mind and spirit — true self if you will.
I suppose the question that keeps circling back to me, given my slightly erratic meditation practice, is whether this is merely a temporary phenomenon? I don't know. Put another way, once I get busy again, will I give it up or do less of it? I hope not. I really hope not for if nothing else it feels much more steadying of my aliveness than to bulk out my life with lots of doing, which frankly exhausts me in so many ways. I've even been thinking, if I'm forced to go back to the office, where I might sit during the 30 minutes I get for lunch and then remembered a wonderful little bench, quite unobtrusive, not that far away that would allow me to sit in a green, open space. Am I worried about people looking at me? Not in the least.
Let me be clear, in regaling you with my enthusiasm for sitting quietly, I'm not suggesting that it's a cure for anything — least of all adjusting to or dealing with the current pandemic — but it might be worth exploring only to the extent that it will be the first time you've ever sat with nothing to do, nowhere to go and being present to everything that's arising.
Then again, you might feel more inclined to drink a nice cup of tea, play with the kids or go for a walk.
As I've already said, I'm not out to convert you to anything other than to share my experience of what's happening day by day during these difficult and almost unprecedented times.