I think I’m getting the hang of nothing! The fifteen minutes of nothingness has now become a practice of twenty minutes each day, and I stuck to it this week. Of course they don’t call it “practice” for nothing – my mind is ever busy wandering from obsession to preoccupation and back again. But it seems I’m a bit less discouraged now, and looking forward to sitting in meditation rather than dutifully forcing myself to. And I’m able to be more relaxed about noticing thoughts and letting them go.
Joy, however, still seems like a reward being withheld until I’ve satisfied a few prerequisite chores. Don’t get me wrong, I am beginning to find the process satisfying and comforting, but I’m wondering where the joy is in this Joy Diet. Nothing? Truth? It seems like the first couple of menu items are not as obviously joyful as what’s coming: Desire, Creativity, Risk, Treats, Play, Laughter, Connection, Feasting.
The week of Truth has revealed some of my monsters lurking in the deep. While I appreciate that being honest with ourselves is a necessity, why do the questions in this “menu item #2” focus on hurt and pain? I hope the next chapter will address the positive side of our truth, rather than only what we’re unhappy about. Some of the monsters revealed this week? I’m not good enough, I can’t live up to the hype, I’m feeling overwhelmed, I should have learned to play the piano, I am scattered and can’t focus, I am lazy and unmotivated. I get it when Martha Beck says, “If you make a habit of this, you’ll find that your ‘bad’ feelings are exactly the ones that you most need to explore. The feeling you think is bad beyond belief may be the only teacher in the universe from whom you can learn genuine goodness.” If my “pains” are coming more from my stories than about reality, I can more easily realize that I’m free to leave suffering behind. Sounds good to me. Martha Beck suggests we flip the pain-story, “trying permutations and explanations for it until you feel the open, satisfying sense that you’ve stumbled upon a story more true than the one you’ve been using to hurt yourself.” Again, this seems like sensible and good medicine, getting us to a greater truth than the original pain-story. But joy?
I did feel a little soothed by offering compassion to myself with the phrases: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be free from suffering.” But beyond that I’m not quite sure how to care for my “inner lying scumbag.” As suggested I also tried thinking of things I could do to bring more love into the world. Unfortunately, while I can think of a good number of actions that fit that description, I don’t comprehend how this would heal my wounds and pains. Maybe, like last week’s Nothing, I need to practice more and try to remember what Martha says:
“It is the truth that offers us this freedom, the freedom to test what we are taught, to accept what we feel in our hearts, to believe what we know in our bones, and to love ourselves – including the worst aspects of ourselves – until we see through enough of our illusions to discover who we were really meant to be. At this point, we will have dismantled the biggest lie, the most profound denial of all: the denial of our own inestimable power and value.”