Connection

21 Jun

I had such a good night after work yesterday.  I swam for half an hour (would have been longer, but the pool here closes at 6pm.)  I did 45 minutes of meditation.  I did 30 minutes of yummy yoga, which included some core strengthening prescribed to me in physical therapy for my back.  And then finished off the evening with a midnight lathihan, the practice I do in Susila Buddhi Dharma (Subud) which is a kind of moving meditation.

Now, granted, I’m in a hotel room with no kids, no chores, no cooking, no friends, and not much else to do other than read or go on the computer.  So, it wouldn’t be at all realistic to think I could have this kind of evening on a normal weeknight at home.

But what really struck me about the evening was the joy I brought to all these things.  I wasn’t forcing myself to do any of it, I wanted to! The yoga required a little internal shove, but I did 30 minutes, I could have easily done 5 or 10 if I had been feeling any resistance.

I think for me the ability to easily do these practices lies in whether or not I feel a sense of Connection in the practice.  I would say that is the feeling I seek most in my life.  I usually feel my greatest sense of connection when in contact with other people, especially good friends.  My favorite thing in the world is having a good, juicy, intimate conversation! Looking for this connection is what drives me to spend endless hours on Facebook, email, on the phone, and even on this blog, although there are other motives, as well.

I’m trying to think of words to describe how this connection feels to me. Maybe it is the fact of “being seen” that feels so vital.  Or losing the sense of isolation and loneliness that can be so pervasive.  I’m an extrovert, so when I am in a good conversation, I can literally go all night, I am never the first one to end it and say goodnight, I have been known to stay up all night talking to friends, still chatting away as the sun comes up.  I feel energized, inspired, excited.  As fun as it is, looking for my source of energy externally in this way comes at a cost, when the conversation ends I can just as quickly deflate and feel a sense of emptiness.  My best friend and I talk on the phone once or twice a week, until 1 am, 2 am, sometimes until 3!  Luckily for both us she is an introvert and retreats on the others days, otherwise I don’t think either of us would get any sleep!

I noticed a while back that my barrier to getting on the meditation cushion at home was in the transition.  When I really looked inside, it was very subtle, but there was this longing for connection that would draw me towards wanting to go on Facebook instead of onto the cushion.  There was this subtle underlying fear that felt like if I broke the connection to my outside world and sat on the cushion that I’d be left feeling cut-off, lonely.  (Like I said, it was very subtle, I didn’t notice any of it until I really looked closely, all I noticed initially was a resistance to meditation, and a pull towards the computer.  It was frustrating  because I didn’t think going on Facebook would ultimately be of any benefit to me, but yet there was such a pull, so I wanted to really look at it and figure it out.)  Of course, if I could push through that fear and get on the cushion I would usually, immediately feel a different sense of Connection, a connection to my practice, to a spiritual calling, to a sense of the Divine, to a Higher Power.  These are not words you will hear in Theravadan Buddhism, woah, not at all, but I have heard many of my teachers talk of the bliss that is felt when the sense of self dissolves.

I have been trying to establish a daily meditation practice for decades, and I’ve done it for months at a time in the past, but I think this year is the first time I have been able to do it with such ease, without the force to get myself to sit, I actually look forward to it, enjoy it, on many days anyway.  But I have not been able to bring that same feeling of connection to my yoga practice.  Oh boy, do I feel resistance for that one!  I have been doing yoga everyday at home all year, since January, but it has been through sheer force, and the joy has not been there, I feel like I’m going through the motions and doing a minimal number of poses to just check off the list.  So this week has felt like a real breakthrough in my practice.  To be able to do the yoga, and enjoy it, and not do the minimum, and to feel that sense of Connection to the practice, or to something greater while I’m doing the practice.  I think the connection just comes automatically when the resistance isn’t there, it’s not something that needs to be cultivated.  I also think that writing this blog has somehow helped me with this, that’s part of the reason I wanted to start the blog in the first place, to inspire my practice, maybe knowing I’ll be writing about it gives me a feeling that I’m not doing it alone.

The interesting thing about the Subud lathihan is the entire practice is about opening to that Connection to the Divine.  I’ve only been doing it for a few years. It was such a contrast to my meditation practice!  I would go to Subud and just look forward to it, I wanted to do the practice, from day one.  Even though I loved my meditation practice I still had to kind of make myself do it, even after so many years.  But the lathihan felt so effortless.  This was very eye opening for me.  And showed me the quality I wanted to bring to my other practices.  I feel like my meditation practice has opened up a lot this year.  Maybe now I’m finally started to bring that same joy and openness to my yoga practice.  Haha, I guess the test will be if I can still feel the lack of resistance when I’m home with the kids and trying to practice after they’ve gone to bed, at 10 or 11 pm.

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