It’s All Good

double wedding ring quilt
This evening I meditated for the first time in awhile. I sat for over an hour in a chilly, dimly lit upstairs room, facing a north window, staring mostly at a desk I hardly use anymore. (especially since I set up this computer facing south in a different room on the first floor) I’m not sure why I meditated now or why I hadn’t for many months. I think I needed to reconcile the distance I feel from blogging, from words, thoughts, ideas. I needed to just experience, clean out.

Years ago I found a source of power in the detachment I learned from focused meditation. (I’m talking 15 years ago.) Detachment freed my fears, allowed me to breathe new air, new life and ideas. I felt free to grow and learn, to improve. Then I began to cling to that feeling, that essence of detachment. I began to mythologize it. And its power quickly faded. I wondered and searched for why it faded. I didn’t have a regular practice and soon “gave up”. (I don’t have a regular practice in anything, except irregularity.)

Sitting tonight, I tumbled with thoughts as I settled my posture to relieve the discomfort it caused. I tried to slow my breathing, which tends to become over excited and then I hyperventilate. I tried to calm my mind. Calming the mind is like trying to calm a restless sea. Doing less is better. So I just let. And let.

And let. The desk before me occasionally revealed itself directly in the swirl of words and images, the monkey mind flitting as a moth in the garden on a summer night. The desk’s wooden structure is as simple, platonic as it gets. Square angles, average proportions, no frills. Utilitarian. Probably oak, or some other hardwood, I’m guessing it was made in the forties of fifties, judging by the deco-ish drawer handles.

The three drawers at the right of a cubby hole for the user’s chair have been stained blackish, perhaps from thousands of touches by human hands. What of the lives of those hands? What of their fate? Did doubt tremble in some? Did sex film those fingers? Chocolate cake? Perhaps this desk was used in a factory office, where soot or other noxious particles permeated the building. Perhaps the lungs which breathed while sitting nearby have expired. Unknown, these possible histories flex in my imagination. What of the forests from which the wood came, each individual tree? And on. All this noticing happens in a second.

I shift my focus to the objects on the desk, which tell tales of my own recent history; a Japanese handmade paper candle shade, decorated with dried flowers within the fibers of the paper. It was given to me by a friend years ago. So simple and timeless and fragile. I consider its value, which soaks beyond its paper structure. Nearby sits is a small ceramic pot to burn fragrant oils. Functional, round, glazed white, it heats a few drops of oil by a candle placed below. Both remind me of past habits, now faded, to practice yoga and meditate here by candle light and (often lung-clogging) oil scented air. A tiny pocket notebook lies open, unused for months now, where ideas for poems or posts were noted. Other objects litter the desktop, adding to its history heap.

This bit of noticing brought me some clarity.

When I notice the ephemeral state of any thought or life, none of this matters. The pain and cold in my body are only temporary. Is any level of pain unbearable when considered against nothingness? Such awareness frees ties to the frail body. I can see so many choices, so many words, so many possible lives fanning out from here. Each choice excludes millions, and creates others. Yet just one is me just sitting. So I sit… and sit. I notice. I am older.

Long ago I read Sartre’s “Nausea” and was profoundly affected by it’s cynical, existential tone. I often feel the nausea of not knowing who I am, not really knowing, only placing meaning, choosing from the emptiness. Nothing matters in the long run. It’s all relative to the vast space and time we are so good at ignoring. I don’t behave so cynically, but inside, I still feel it’s all just illusions, temporary patterns. So I choose to live the illusions, the subjective experience in general, of beauty, happiness, food, love, sex, trust, music, family, friends. These are what I rely on to compose and anchor my detachment. Otherwise I would just float away.

This sitting session helped me. Detachment is powerful. Frightening. Enticing. A burden and a gift. I am responsible for how I live.

I have work to do. I have goodness to share. I matter. I know. It’s all good if I breathe in synchronicity with the heartbeats around me.

The photo above is part of an Amish “double wedding ring” pattern quilt, from OH, 1930s. The interwoven circles could symbolize the inter-relatedness of all life on this fragile sphere.

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25 thoughts on “It’s All Good

  1. Garnet,
    It seems as if you’ve had an almost surreal experience, or maybe you’re more in touch with you environment than most of us…Interesting that you seem to be engulfed in your surroundings while in the detached state.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post today. Have been doing zazen for past 24 years and detachment is very liberating, yet disappears, so I need to take care not to get attached to detachment.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Derek

  3. Tammi- Good point! Detachment implies distance from ones ego and desires. When I lifted out of myself, I saw the desk clearly, rather than just as an object to use, it became a living thing with detail and history.

    Allison- Namaste!

  4. Derek- I admire you. 24 years! wow. Yet I now know it’s not a heroic feat, but a simple act which does not ask why, but just stays, noticing. It’s never “done”. I will sit regularly from now on.

  5. I have work to do. I have goodness to share. I matter. I know. Itรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs all good if I breathe in synchronicity with the heartbeats around me. Oh yes you do matter so much.

    That is why I mediate and why I write about going to the stars as I do–to keep that detachment and that connectedness with the universe, to help me breathe.

    Your hearbeat lines are so much stronger now. I hear them too. They are the heartbeats of angels and stars not just of person or people.
    lhg

  6. Liz- Rounding out the intensity is the trick. Too connected, too detatched, back and forth. I don’t know any other way. So I keep going back and forth, learning more each revolution.

  7. Hello lovely Garnet,

    Glad you got some quiet, and shared the peaceful results. Left you two notes on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. MB- Interesting that you describe a post on detatchment as moving. But it makes sense. For me even meditation is intense and even emotional.

  9. Teri- Yes, clarity, but temporary. Tomorrow is another day. But I think “sitting” will become a regular habit again.

  10. David, I use to meditate too. Not sure why I stopped other than life was good and the need seemed to slip away like a whisper in a crowded room. Likewise, I feel the need for a reunion with myself. I hope it’s a happy one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Trรƒยฉe- You are one of the most vivid positive spirits on the internet. I agree with you about the need to connect with ones self, since even being positive can also become a “habit” and overshadow other needs. And meditation certainly gets on back to now, no frills.

  12. I guess you learn something new every day. Wouldn’t have known about the amish ring unless I had stumbled up on your site. Very interesting post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Sometimes the best meditative moments come upon us, we don’t come upon them. They also arrive at the times of greatest need, as if the mind has some internal safety mechanism which kicks into gear when required, automatically, without any input from us.

    My new blog is up and running by the way, my friend, in its very own webspace and with its very own domain name. I have left Blogger for the freedom of WordPress! Not an easy transition but I’ve got there. See what you think if you get a few minutes to spare. x

  14. This post made me think of the concept of Now talked about in the book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

    The awareness of what’s happening in the moment. The detachment you’ve described is described in the book as ‘watching the thinker’ – detaching yourself from your thoughts and seeing them as a separate entity to who you really are. You are not your thoughts.

    This is a spiritual concept that I believe in very much and what you’ve described sounds very much like it.

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