It came to me today while running on the treadmill – the surreptitious presentation of the realization of a lesson about to be learned.
It’s been a strange week. All the days are different on the surface but after such a lovely hiatus from the emotional valleys recently, it was fully felt that I was trudging downward this week. It began with a slight malaise when I woke on Monday morning. And then upon arriving in work, I found a poor little rat, poisoned and close to death. He/she was shivering and weak on the tarmac. Fate would have it that I be alone in the office so I grabbed a new company fleece, wrapped up little Ratsky and put it down on the grass next to the building, sheltered from the wind. It was very weak and bleeding from the nose so I put a bowl of water next to it. The following hours were spent alternatively working and going outside to check on it, stroking its bony little head, then weeping my way back inside. It died just before lunchtime. I dug a little grave with the claw side of a hammer and gently rolled it in, covered it back up with dirt, said a few words, threw the jacket away and washed up the bowl.
The day remained melancholy, and little Ratsky was on my mind until I fell asleep that night.
Perhaps that was the start of the insidious loop; the recording that plays in the background while you’re living your days? It can be good, it can be bad, it plays back memories, events, thoughts, people…every thing you’ve ever experienced in some way, shape or form. It’s always there. The contents of it can nudge a person to take notice, or not. The one that played out for much of this week turned out to be a negative reel with lots of pointed fingers and angry expressions. It doesn’t come to theatres very often but when it does, the awareness that I cultivate regarding thoughts becoming reality dissipates. This allows thoughts to form in the spaces with an ugly clarity.
I went down for a day, enmeshed in the rolling “thoughts feed emotions” process. At the end of that day, there came a small internal conversation about staying home vs. attending Sangha. I went. And was glad that I did.
The Universe granted me a safe haven and provided many more souls in the group than usual with which to bounce safely around. As soon as the circle closed, my eyes relaxed and I felt my soul escape the bounds of the body. I felt bigger; filled up. It was wonderful. I listened to a teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh which was most timely, and reminded me that though my emotions be strong, though my thoughts be unruly, I must remember to breathe deeply at my navel, and there I will find peace.
A lesson learned then this week (and no doubt will be presented again at some point in the future) that thoughts shape what we perceive as true. They can be our best friends or our biggest enemy.