Madonna, Colón, Panama by Jula2812. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Paul McCartney wrote this famous song about his own mother Mary, who died when he was 14 years old. We know what we need in times of trouble. In our hours of darkness, in our times of broken- heartedness and difficulty, what most of us want the most is a caring presence. We do not want advice or a pep talk. We want to be seen and heard and known. We want to be accepted as we really are, including the parts of us that hold pain and anger and fear.
Some of us were fortunate enough to have had loving mothers who demonstrate this kind of calm caring. They may have been far from perfect most of the time. But sometimes, when the chips were down, they gave us that compassionate attention that is not separate from wisdom. But many of us didn’t know this kind of loving, accepting awareness, and we fear that we didn’t know how to offer it to our own children. The good news is that we can find it in ourselves.
“Darling, I am here for you.” The great Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn composed this “mantra of true presence.” Please consider saying this to yourself. Look in the mirror in the morning and say it. Say it late at night when you can’t sleep. Say it all the time. Offer yourself the gift of kind attention. Have the kind intention to let yourself be.
“Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy.” This is another mantra from the Zen master. What a wonderful thing to hear! Some of the people claim to not like this phrase, preferring, “I’m here for you” or “I’m here for you, buddy” or something. But truthfully, we all want to be dear to someone and yes, even darling, and to have our mere presence make someone happy. And it turns out that we don’t have to pine and wait! We can say this mantra anytime, and lots of times. And it may be that tiny moments of letting ourselves be, offering ourselves the reminder that we are wonderful just as we are, literally full of wonder, can change our lives.
Let it be. Let the body be the body, just as you find it today. Let the feelings be the feelings. Let the thoughts be the thoughts. Let the world be the world. If there is to be an answer or an insight, if there is to be healing of the heartbreak and soothing of the pain and trouble, it starts and ends here. We accept reality. And we dare to show ourselves just as we are to a greater, nonjudgmental attention. We know that we are lovable.
Another mantra of true presence from Thich Nhat Hahn is: “Darling, I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.” The last and most challenging is: “Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.” This is the most challenging, because it means admitting to a loved one that they are making you suffer.
Undertaking this practice of offering ourselves a bit of kind, nonjudgmental attention, letting everything be just as it is, we may begin to glimpse what love could be. It just might be a force that allows an easing of fear, a little bit of luminous energy that allows us to see ourselves as a person of interest–not just in our best moments and manifestations but even when our internal wounded children rear their wild little heads–the whole of us, damaged and undamaged, conscious or lost in the past, all of us genuinely worthy of care and interest. As we work this way, welcoming ourselves into the light of our own kind attention, letting every part be, we discover that darkness and loneliness not deepest thing in us. Love is.