Happy New Year! Wishing us all a new kind of 20/20 vision—an awakened vision that is broad and deep. May we begin to see and sense ourselves–every part of ourselves, even the wounded and raging parts—as part a greater whole.
Recently, in my local meditation circle, we have been talking about difficult things, including racism and antisemitism and the rise of hate crimes against all people who are deemed “other.” Awakening, it turns out, includes seeing and feeling such things.
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain,” wrote James Baldwin.
Awakening means opening our hearts to our own pain. We can start small, sitting quietly at a quiet time of day or in a quiet place. We can practice saying “forgiven” like a mantra or prayer when difficult feelings or memories arise. We will do this together the next time we sit. We can do this when any kind of difficult feeling comes up: a memory, a gripping tension, a rush of anxiety, that uneasy sense that we are puppets dancing on the strings of our conditioning. For a moment or two we can emerge into a finer presence.
Throughout the ages, people have called this greater presence God. But you don’t need to worry about whether or not there is a God. We just need to practice accepting our own humanity for a second or two. One moment at a time, we can practice opening to our life, just that. This act of opening does not depend on belief or views of any kind. Just be still for a little bit.
Instead of just being a little virtual reality machine, our brain may also be a receiver capable of tuning into a finer awareness. When we unplug and sit down quietly or go out into nature, the receiver capacity of the brain has a chance to open to this greater awareness, this greater presence. We realize that we have a sensitivity that is greater than our pain and anger. The root of the word “forgive” means to give or grant or allow. This year why not resolve to give yourself the gift of this attention, even for a moment. We may experience what it is like to be accepted and forgiven. Not in words. By something finer and more sensitive and alive.