“What if this right now was enough?” is the question Anne Cushman, one of the four amazing mindfulness meditation teachers leading the 7 day silent retreat, asked as we began the week. This question became a seed planted in my heart, cultivated through 7 days of embodied mindfulness practices. The question became my guide through the weeds and the clearings of my silent retreat journey.
So what does this question even mean? Well, that depends on you! Let’s try a brief experiment. Find a comfortable position where you can remain alert and relaxed for about 2 minutes. Take a couple of deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. When you’re done, breathe naturally. Close your eyes, softly. Now ask yourself – what am I feeling in my body? Perhaps you are feeling tension, tingling, pulsating, tightness, etc. See if you can be a witness to the sensation, allowing it to be there without your mind trying to change it. Now ask yourself – what am I believing about myself or my life right now? Allow whatever images or words to arise. Again, trying to be a witness to your experience. Now ask yourself – what if this moment, with these sensations and beliefs, were enough? See what happens as you feel into this question…
Throughout the retreat I experienced moments of peace and awe, deep sadness and flashbacks to a childhood traumatic experience, and awareness of some habitual ways I respond to life. Each time I found myself noticing the moment, regardless of it being pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, I asked myself, what if this right now was enough? This question challenged me to truly experience the moment and remember that the moment changes and so do my experiences of it.
It was extremely hard to accept the moment, especially when it was unpleasant. Nonetheless, I was committed to trying and as I continued to open to the moment using this question as a guide, I began to release my grip on the moment. Like so many, I want constant stability in every aspect of life, which is simply impossible. Instability is a part of life, an essential aspect of being human. We have all learned ways, knowingly and unknowingly, to cope with this truth. And when I sit quietly for a moment and feel into this question, I get a little closer to accepting the reality of instability along with the truth of its impermanence. I begin to cease blaming myself and begin to uncover the unskillful ways I respond to this human reality. For example, as I meditated during the week, I noticed my mind going into planning mode. As I held this with a loving awareness, I noticed that underneath this planning mode was a striving mind. What was I striving for? Because I had so much time to settle into stillness and quiet (this is the beauty and challenge of silent retreats), I was able to connect the feelings associated with this striving mind with past experiences of trying to control the instability of life. My mind kept “striving for” external accomplishments so that I could feel a certain way (i.e., successful, significant, worthy, etc.).
What if this right now was enough? Yes, what if my life just as it is right now was enough? Is this not all that I have…this moment? What if I could even for the moment release my grip and let myself just be without judgment? With a deep breath in and out, I feel lighter. Ah, I feel a moment of peace.
Peace is This Moment Without Judgment by Dorothy Hunt
Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself?…
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?
Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.
Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.