Monday, January 04, 2016

It's That Simple

Winter sunlight feels so lovely!
At the sesshin between Christmas and New Year's, we stay up an hour later each evening so that by New Year's Eve, we stay up to midnight to ring in the new year with a ceremony.  It is a most beautiful thing.  We also continue to rise at the same time each morning, which for me was 3:15 am.  This is a little less beautiful as the week goes on.  Our teacher encouraged us to look deeply within when we found our energy faltering, assuring us that we had what what we needed if we could allow it to come forward, pointing out how powerful it can be to learn firsthand just how much strength we have inside of each of us.

Sometimes I fell asleep anyway.

The thing about being that sleep deprived is that, when you really hit that edge, it is much easier to see and let go of all those ideas about oneself that take so much damn energy to prop up.  For myself, I have so much resistance to, well, everything.  It's like I am dragging an old tire (or 12) behind me everywhere I go.  If I can snip the ties to just one of them, I find myself enlivened and energized even on 4 hours of sleep.  This is a good thing to remember when I am not in the depths of sesshin but rather at the end of a long, busy day and realize that I still have laundry to fold and dishes to wash.

This sesshin, I spent some time paying particular attention to the one inside of me that needs to be special, whether it is from being exemplary in what I do or the most clever in what I say or write, or the most helpful or useful.  It's a pretty big motivating factor in my life, this need to be special or stand out in some way.  (See post below!  Funny how these things come up just before sesshin and lead to all sorts of things happening once we sit down and be quiet.)  Often, it results in things that are good - I aim to do my best and I try to serve others and generally get stuff done well.  But that little extra that I tack on - the need for it be seen and praised - that isn't so helpful.  Certainly it causes me pain when that kind of acknowledgment doesn't happen.  And sometimes it just gets so damn complicated.  A simple act of giving suddenly has all sorts of strings attached.  Yuck.  It makes me feel icky to think about how this is so, but that's part of staying up for 20 hours a day to meditate - you have to stick with that icky feeling and get it know it really well so you can remember it for the next time.  Or maybe even before the next time.

Part of the New Year's ceremony we do includes making an incense offering and setting an intention for the new year - everyone walks up to the incense box and does it (silently) in front of the whole community.  So, you aren't declaring it out loud but still, there are witnesses!  Among my resolutions to be more organized and disciplined, to do the right thing by my children, and to paint Finn's bedroom, is an intention to let my actions be (more) simple and unadorned, maybe a little less icky. Let's see how it goes.

Happy New Year!  I don't really have a sense of who is still reading this beyond a couple of people but I send my best wishes out to any and all!  May 2016 be simple and unadorned and a little less icky for you too!


Fran said...

My advice is to not do this very often; lots of stress hormones and high levels of insulin result from sleep deprivation. One can meditate in the daytime, and keep things simple. (I am an old lady, and I know these things.)
Cheers Fran

Robyn said...

Thanks Fran! I do it once/year - this sesshin is special for just this reason. It is a challenge and an opportunity but I agree, it isn't something that needs to happen very often! : )