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Enduring Difficulties: Stillness and Awakening

Enduring Difficulties: Stillness and Awakening

In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.

– Pico Iyer

Renowned world traveler, journalist, and long-time friend of the Dalai Lama, Pico Iyer shared these sentiments in his 2014 TED talk and then again in his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere.

I was inspired to watch the talk and read the book after the poem below, “Awakening Care” by Kaveri Patel, arrived in my email inbox earlier this week. I had met Kaveri years ago through my mindful self-compassion class at Spirit Rock. Her poem, published last week in her latest book Awakening, brings the practice of sitting still, deepening and awakening, alive in these difficult times of the ongoing pandemic. 

May it be inspiring to you and yours.

Awakening Care

I used to think that enlightenment
Was a place to get to
Just one more class, one more practice
One more teacher training
And I’m on my way
To the land of freedom

What if enlightenment was always right here
A calming breath underneath
An N-95 mask and other PPE
Compassionate words to soothe
The ill and worried well
Knowing that both need attention

What if enlightenment is vacation
Redefined as staycation
No more Maui or even Monterey
The rooms in my home and backyard
Becoming the paradise I seek
Sheltering in place to awaken

What if enlightenment is this body
Breaking down to remind me
Speed caused injury
Slowing down is what heals
Yoga to Qigong, hiking to walking
Embodying over accomplishing

What if enlightenment is family

The ones who love me most
And push all my buttons
To test a bodhisattva’s vow
On your path to liberation
Will you take us with you?

Enlightenment is what’s here now
Pleasant, unpleasant and neutral
Moments taking turns to watch
If I’ll show up with grace
Or resist and run away
Accepting an in between response

As long as I’m willing to try.

– Kaveri Patel, Awakening

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