Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A School for Mom? The School of Awakening

Not everything happens for a reason. There may be an order to the world, but it is punctuated with randomness. Yet, when it makes sense, reading signs that converge to point to a bit of interesting insight can prove useful. 

For months now, I have hesitated to post what might be described as indiscriminate scribblings of a mind occupied with hearth and home and small things, when the world seems full of large, scary ones. But writing brings joy, to me and maybe to you as well. Happiness and beauty found in the everyday wonders that surround me are my only defense, the only "bulwarks against casual cruelties," that I am free to offer, as Gregory Cowles of the New York Times Book Review phrased it, in describing "The Book of Delights" by Ross Gay*. A book of delights? That little phrase was encouragement enough to return to some blog posting, a raison d'etre.

And I have a promise to keep; I was granted a scholarship to study mindfulness in an online course with Eckhart Tolle and Kim Eng for six months. A dream come true for those familiar with their work, in a place called "The School of Awakening." In my application, I said I would share this journey and what I've learned: in real life and in writing.

Either extreme inarticulateness or an interruption followed each effort I made to complete this post. I've debated whether to call the events a menace to creativity...or a good excuse not to own up to independent action. The last attempt I made was on the first day of Lent, one of the above-mentioned signs that seemed like a propitious occasion for beginning. What is the cross but an outward symbol of suffering, death, healing, new life to follow? What a good time it would have been to write about soothing the suffering inside ourselves and in the world. As we now approach the Summer Solstice, it is time, to write about healing, to warm up with the season of life and sunshine. 

The School of Awakening has been my faithful companion these past months, and my guide to grounding when the earth seemed crumbly beneath my feet. There have been long hours of absorbing, ruminating, searching and sitting with a particular teaching in meditation. Eckhart Tolle and Kim Eng have shared much wisdom, peaceful insight and practical methodology without making it dogmatic.

My take-away from the many sessions is the steady, common thread running through many spiritual practices, in essence: search out the quiet inside, by paying attention to the here and now. Be responsible for ourselves, for our own reactions. 

These reactions stem from many factors, many of them internal, based upon and sitting upon layers of past pain. Seeing the pain for what it is; as the place that sends us to an unpleasant outburst, creating a fresh cycle of pain, is the first step to resolving it. 

It is only in the innermost realm, in paying attention, that you can find and ponder deeply this truth, but it is in the world that you must exercise mindfulness. The world will not slow down and be quiet for you. You must cultivate and bring the quiet space into your life and the lives of those you touch. 

*March 3, 2019: "New and Noteworthy," describing "The Book of Delights by Ross Gay in The New York Times Book Review.

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