Sitting in the Mix

This blogging business has its pros and cons.   An opportunity to briefly reflect on all sorts of things from a perch of cultivating mindful awareness is a privilege.

Nevertheless, an additional “assignment” due besides the day job can itch at the noggin all week.  And this week has been been a rash (heh) of uncommon events and circumstances to attend to, with varying levels of effort, impact, and uncertainty.  Sometimes we may luckily hold but a single or prevailing state of experience. sometimes on the cushion, but mostly off, as we go about our lives.  At this current time, my own experience as well as those of a gaggle of patients and others I’ve shared time with this week is instead of a mashup, a mix, a potent concoction of stuff to hold.

Behold the mix:  I’m tappity-tapping this a mere couple of hours after the Presidential election was called, at least by most news outlets.   There’s some powerful experience right there, on both sides: relief, joy, grievance, disbelief, and even dread around how the transition will unfold.  COVID is spiking most everywhere, generating fear, disappointment and disgust (how we got here for some, why we’re still attending to it for fatigued and/or under-informed others).  A lovely autumn has finally arrived here in Northern California, with some cooler temperatures, but still no precipitation; anxiety simmers over a last tragic wave of our fire season.

Personally, I’m swamped yet gratified by lots of crisis clinical work with patients,  each with their own radioactive mixes; excited and gratified as the the book gets closer to being in peoples’ hands; yet a bit challenged as my own medical burdens push against this work pace.  (A nap beckons.)

Practicing with a particular phenomenon of experience – the breath, a certain feeling state – is a welcome aspiration, with the landscape of mind relatively clear of coincidental stuff to pull attention away.  But, then there’s times like this: the mind a cement mixer, maybe a blender. Sometimes a mix is just what we got.   Meditation can still help.

One piece of advice occurs (that nap beckons):  “A for effort”.  For newbies, we start in my book, as most do, practicing on the supposed “bunny hill” of a single target for the attending, usually the breath.  But some moments like these can drag both newbie and veteran up the hill to black diamond territory, with a challenge in just opening to whatever occurs in a sitting.  We do what we can to briefly attend to and then release a blizzard of events, emotional reactions, and judgments.

Some may be truly in opposition.  “Ambivalence,” the clinical/psychobabble lingo for holding a variety of feeling states that are at tension, seems like an anemic term for the current.  An outcome of some pristine clarity with this cluster of stuff is less realistic than an intention to sit with it, observe as best we can how this mix operates in each of us.  And make it down the mountain, despite some tumbles.

Take care and stay safe, friends.  GCS