Recently while in the park near my office, I watched a young man teaching meditation to a group of kids. One of the boys was taking a bit longer to find his seat. It was obvious to me he was headed to the base of a nearby tree but hadn’t quite settled there. The instructor looked at his watch, and yelled—rather harshly—“You are 15 seconds over schedule, sit down and start meditating!”
My heart sunk, for both of them.
How many of us have similar versions of this instructor in our heads? Reprimanding, resenting or commanding all sorts of things from us, others and the universe.
The mind tells us what we think should happen, but the body tells us what is happening; Our pain and suffering, is the distance between the two.
This poor instructor was surely so full of his own internal "shoulds" that he couldn't support or enjoy the process of this young child finding his way in his own time and place. He also didn't seem by any stretch able to enjoy his own time in the park. Very likely, this man was reenacting his own experience of life, and shamed this little boy the same way he shames himself.
We punish ourselves and others over and over again for the things we were once told we should or shouldn't, could or couldn't do, have, or be.
What are you holding against yourself, others or the world around you?
These grudges separate us from health, joy, and connection with life.
It is Fall and the trees are generously and with ease letting go of their leaves, that once green brought so much vibrancy. The tree can teach us that in this letting go, we honor and cultivate contentment with what is. The trees without effort lovingly forgive the sun for leaving us and forgive themselves for now being bare. It is profound to see them stand just as tall and strong with or without their leaves--available to enjoy whatever comes their way next.
Forgiveness is freedom. We don't forgive to condone or excuse--we forgive because in letting go we can actually let in what is inside and around us.
In honor of this changing season, I would invite you to play with what you can let fall away (pun intended).
Imagine how you would want to respond to the child finding his way and what it would be like to respond to your own body, process, being that way. And, I hope you allow yourself to find your own seat under a nearby tree.
(Artwork above by Judith Bergerson)