On Meditation (Where Vulnerability & Rootedness Coexist)

Open Palms

Photo MO 2019

First, we try things because we are curious. 

Eager to learn.
Eager to touch.
Each to feel.
Since our eyes first opened from the womb.
———-
I loved to walk in snowy stillness in the woods.
To look into specks of light shining from dark sky without speaking.
To lie in grassy meadows.
Surely, meditation was like that, right?
Only a stirring pot of edginess swirled around my veins and entered my head.
I wanted to run.
Or at least push it off until tomorrow
When what I really need to do was  s t a y .

When did planned stillness become the alarm bell for
every pushed away thought, desire to squirm,
to return to my old task-oriented habits?
Perhaps to evade change.
Or because I wasn’t ready to open up my insides,
because I knew there was stuff inside that I already thought I was working through well enough in my daily life.

It appeared that the silence of meditation wore a cloak,
bearing a name tag that I couldn’t quite make out.
I leaned into the beats coming from my chest
and slowly discovered that its presence was not as foreboding
as I once thought.
This presence had a moniker,
and I likened the ring of its name to Uncertainty.
Uncertainty was uncomfortable to be around.
Uncertainty made me want to grip my hands into a fist,
to stand my ground, to prove myself.
But Uncertainty didn’t speak; it just sat beside me
and made sure the candles stayed lit,
befriending my heart.

Over the years, I desired more than two minutes
a night of this quiet silence,
this curious being that whispered of another way of being alive.
So I dared to spend more time with it.
It guided me through changing life seasons,
in cities familiar,
in countries whose languages I cannot speak,
in times of grief,
in times of immense joy for the very breath rising and falling,
rising, and falling.

And so I learned that dances in the dark with Uncertainty’s shadows will forever be a part of my evolution.
That what can start out as a loud cacophony can turn into the last reverberating string as quiet enters in.
But more than anything, this thing started to whisper to me.
“Open your palms. Soften your countenance.
Breathe in. Breathe out.”

Life—and therefore, change— persisted.
My palms slowly uncurled
wider
as my heart rate slowed.

And slowly I could look out the window,
or from my tent,
or from the black of my closed eyelids and return to being.

B e i n g.

Breathing.
With an open palm.
The quintessential aspect of my practice.
In the beginning, I said I could live with my heart on my sleeve.
But I didn’t live firm and authentic, day in and day out, in tune with my values, a deep internalized knowing that I could be accepted as loved in my truths and curiosities.
Not good enough?
I didn’t think I actually believed that.
But when I peeled back the layers, that’s the negative thought that explains the people pleasing, my avoidance of conflict, the imposed limits of my fullest freedom.
Because when you believe wholeheartedly that you- that everyone- is worthy of love, belonging, connection, and enough, you don’t need to self protect- the most fragile form of “protection” that robs us of growth.

To open your palms to the cognizance that a better way might be possible
than the thoughts, actions, and behaviors in which you currently exhibit—
that our fixed ideas will need fine tuning periodically, or drastically at first—
that my circumstances and the people around me all need freedom and grace,
even if that means I will experience loss or heartbreak, yes, especially then—
that is open palmed vulnerability.

But when I rest these open palms,
I am resting them on rooted sitbones.
A rooted core.
A heart and mind whose intention is to live life curious,
A pilgrim walking into the long arc of Uncertainty
Because I choose to set my gaze on love, justice, connection, that essence that I think holds us all together, though we all know it by many names, so I just go back to love.

When I go awry, those around me, and that gentle spirit which kept me coming back, show me where I can love better,
own up to my shit,
and that makes life much deeper.

So I sit here,
with open palms and a rooted core,
trying to be completely open
to this precarious existence.
In breath.
In gratitude.
In meditation.

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

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