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Lions Roar : September 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2011 50 At the Museum of Natural History As we both look up at the Tyrannosaurus Rex its bones painted black, its danger extinct I can hear the sounds of children echo throughout the museum And we are not afraid this way to stand a few inches away from each other We are not afraid because it’s over The Tyrannosaurus Rex does not scare us We don’t scare each other It’s over, the bones are beginning to fade and bleach in our failure But if one day someone finds our remains and decides to lay them right next to each other will they lay them in their proper ways will they mix up my hip with yours will they place the fingers of my hands on someone else’s palms Will they ever know this flesh answered the other that my fingers traveled all over the empty space around your bones —BUSHRA REHMAN From Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry, published by University of Arkansas Press. all he said. I confess I found it abrupt, considering my experience with other counselors. He didn’t criticize or correct me, he just didn’t dwell. I was unaccus- tomed to making so little of what felt like so much. We usually have an impulse to do something with what we judge to be a “negative” emotion. Perhaps we should explore, explain, or fix it. Surely it’s not “right” or “normal.” Is it possible to be sad and then be done with it? Sadness is a good guide and even a good sign. Sadness may initiate your spiritual practice. Because most of us suffer when we are sad, it can lead us to seek solace and resolution. You might notice, for instance, that when you begin a medita- tion or yoga practice, you cry for no good reason at all. This can indicate that you are releasing long- held emotions and fears. To be sure, grief is its own teacher and takes its own time. It feels good to cry. And it feels good to stop. By itself, crying always ends. Sadness changes to something else, because all things, even thoughts and emotions, change when we let them. Soon enough you’ll see that a heartbreak doesn’t break anything for long. Take care that you do not turn back and take up permanent residence in the ruin, or you will condemn your life to the shadows of the past. Keep going straight on. SIT DOWN FOR A WHILE Through the process of sitting still and following your breath, you are connecting with your heart. — CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA I copied this quotation in a personal journal I kept during my breakup eighteen years ago. Now I can see how clearly the dharma always leads us back to ourselves. The surest way to keep going through any dif- ficulty is to sit down and stay put—specifically by practicing meditation. It’s what all the teachers tell us, and you can prove it to yourself. Meditating while you are angry, sad, disap- pointed, or afraid is the most direct way to resolve the difficulty. Why? Because you’re facing it. Medi- tation is the practice of facing yourself completely, cultivating intimacy with your breath and aware- ness. It is an intimacy that goes far beyond the com- panionship and gratification we seek from another. Keeping company with yourself can change the expectations you place on a relationship. Through a mindfulness practice, you see firsthand what it means to take responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment, and you experience love of a differ- ent kind—unconditional love, which arises sponta- neously as your true nature. When you practice formally with a group, you’ll have the opportunity to sit in silence for a day or more alongside someone you’ve never met. Eventu- ally, your mind will grow quiet and your concentra- tion will deepen. You will share proximity without the judgments and expectations we usually impose on those around us, and be in relationships that are not conditioned by what another person is doing for you or how they are serving you. This is what happens in a silent meditation retreat. At the end of the time together, you might be inclined to do