Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d rather see you in better living conditions.
Oooh, but Day 6 started with an uphill battle…
It was a little after 5am when my bedroom door was pushed open. I have a suspicion that mothers are born with in-built springs that contract, even in sleep, at the slightest sound from their offspring. I was up and out of the door before I realised I’d been woken up.
Fortunately, it wasn’t an emergency. Just a bleary-eyed five-year old who thought it was ‘too dark’ to go to the bathroom alone. I mumbled an “Off we go, then” and kept him company till he was safely tucked up again.
Trouble is, it’s tricky getting back to sleep at that time of the morning, isn’t it? I’m guessing that this is one of those times that learning to meditate is its own reward. Because before you’ve mastered it (and I surely haven’t yet), this is the time of the night when your mind decides to take the driving seat. Everything you are worrying about; worrying about happening, worrying about forgetting, worrying about not happening; jostles for position at the forefront of your mind, even while your mind itself is, to no avail, shouting at them all to STOP! I need to SLEEP!
So it’s a tired day. But, to put it in context, not nearly as tired as, say, the weeks (or months) it takes until your newborn decides to sleep through the night. You know… perspective!
But tired days are often days filled with mini-frustrations, too. You know, you slave over a hot stove and produce a delicious homemade risotto and your little one refuses point blank to eat it, even though porridge is his favourite food, and it’s not so very different, right? And then he completely wolfs the apple crumble his daddy made. Harumph! 😉
Fortunately, though, the threatening rumbles of distant thunder stayed distant, and after the children’s tea (which seems to be the ideal time) and before their bedtime, while they were winding down (or winding each other up, in some cases), I carried myself off for today’s meditation.
I leaned on Jack again. And today he was talking me through Lovingkindness Meditation. It’s hard to explain this, but although really all I did was listen to the theory of lovingkindness meditation, there is just something about the way he talks that opens your heart in preparation, calms you, steadies you. I came away as though I had had half an hour of complete, uninterrupted, focused meditative peace.
Truly, it was more food for thought, too. He explained that lovingkindness meditation is taught as an ‘antidote to fear, and anger, and confusion. And a closed heart.’
And that makes sense to me. Fear, anger and confusion… they constrict your heart, don’t they? If you close your eyes and think about the physical reactions brought about by those emotions, doesn’t it actually feel as though your heart is being squeezed, just a little? If you live your life in fear – which could just as easily be called anxiety – then you won’t allow love in. And people are afraid of so much, from the smallest things that appear utterly insignificant to their fellow human beings, to the biggest which, I suppose, is death. And that’s pretty significant too. You worry till you die? Doesn’t that seem to you a crazy way to ‘endure’ this life we’ve been gifted?
So, if the antidote to that kind of fear-laden doom is love, what do we have to lose? Which is pretty much verbatim what I said to a doom-laden son this afternoon. He had a list as long as your arm of perceived injustices. It’s so hard, at that tender age, to understand how easy it would be just to let them go. So I settled for
“Just try to be kind… I mean, what have you got to lose?”
In the meantime, my head and heart are full of Jack Kornfield’s words. In his soft, gentle, loving voice, he said:
The evocation of lovingkindness is what matters..
…and in the end of our life, when we look back, what matters is very simple:
“Did I love well?”