Writing

Adjust Accordingly

by | Jun 8, 2022 | 2 comments

This has not been an easy piece to write. My schedule is overfull right now. My to do lists are overburdened. Concerns about the present and worries about the future are robust and active. These are coming at me like the crows that sometimes dive toward my head each spring, mad with an intention it’s hard to outrun.

Under these circumstances, my system is on relatively high alert. And when I sit down to compose, this is what I find waiting. Not the sense of insight or inspiration that typically fuels these posts. Not the easy delight of exploration and discovery, but a body/mind that is tightly wound and loud with anxiety.

Self-criticism serves little benefit here. ‘I’m a meditator,’ I think to myself, ‘I should know how to deal with these things.’ We could debate the fairness – or the lack of fairness – informing this ‘should’ well into the night. The fact remains unchanged: I’m finding it difficult to settle into whatever this piece wants and needs to be.

So I pause for a moment and breathe. One breath cycle. Then two. Then three. Until a vague outline of another sentence emerges. Like a shadowy figure coming slow out of dense fog, a few words present themselves. I stare for a moment. Once I have a sense of what that blurry silhouette might describe, I type it out here. One sentence at a time. Then breathe. One sentence at a time. Then breathe. One sentence at a time…

As already suggested, this is not at all how this process usually unfolds. It is, as a result, not at all what I expected when I sat down to write a while back. It does, however, seem an appropriate adjustment to the circumstance I presently at hand. In the midst of so much tension and agitation, it’s an adjustment that is allowing me to find a way into, to find a way to receive, the words you are reading right now.

As meditators, I suspect this is a situation we all find ourselves in from time to time. Circumstance gives rise to a difficult inner landscape – one that is challenging to let even a single foot rest firm upon, much less wander and explore. And nothing we do seems able to change this. We try one technique and then the other. We fuss and fidget, stare out the window. We try to corral ourselves and, when this earns no appreciable effect, to cajole and criticize.

When, when we have pretty much reached the end of our tether, we strip things down to their simplest possible element. Whether through volition or outright surrender, we give ourselves to just one breath. And then another. Just one breath. And then another. Just one breath…

We adjust what we’re doing to meet the intensity, the difficulty, the challenges of the moment, one could say. We adjust accordingly.

– Neil

2 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, Neil. I’m in a big work transition which I feel tied in knots over. And, I keep pausing and being frustrated for how I’m ‘letting’ the situation make me feel sick… We are meditators AND we are human 🙂 What a magnificent opportunity for reflection on why I am so triggered… And, lovely info to work with myself, my sensorimotor psychotherapist, and my myofascial release PT. So much to pay with… So many breaths to take!

    Reply
    • Such an important thing to remember, don’t you find? ‘We are meditators AND we are human.’ Sometimes easy to forget, so I appreciate the reminder, Wendy!

      Reply

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