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Beginner's Heart

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Sometimes when I’m cranky (or blue, or irritable, or maudlin…or just out of sorts), I realise: I’m really none of the above. I’m hungry. Or thirsty. Or tired. Or hot. In other words, it’s not a mental/emotional/even spiritual problem. It’s this rag & bone body of mine that’s the issue.

When working well, the body is invisible. We forget it completely, really. I don’t think about breathing, or walking (unless meditating…). I take typing, for instance, for granted. As I do the ability to drive w/out really thinking much (sorry, but I DO drive downtown almost on autopilot!). Or any of a number of physical skills I have. It’s only when I’ve been sick, or I’m not fed/rested/etc, that I consider the carriage I live within.

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Funny: I don’t think of my body as ‘me.’ But it is, pretty much. I live within the confines (increasingly narrow!) of arthritis, of old injury, of aging and being female and the other attendant challenges of being a material being. And yet… As a former meditation teacher of mine taught: I can cut off my hand, my arm, both my hands & arms, my feet, my legs, do grievous hard to this my body. And I’m still ‘me.’ Whatever that means.

But I won’t be the same me, I guarantee. I’ve known too many survivors to not understand that bodily injury changes the ‘me’ of the material/immaterial marriage.

Buddhists know that we are not our bodies. And yet… We meditate on bodily sensation, grounding ourselves in what we feel — physical sensations first — this specific, physical, almost tangible, moment. The pressure of sitting in a chair, the sound of keys clicking on a keyboard, the rapid movement of fingers across that same keyboard. The warmth of sunlight through a window. Even the slight fragrance of a steaming cuppa.

All of this is the ‘not-me’ of the body. But it’s also the ‘me.’

It’s a tricky line, me and not-me. Much like the physical/non-physical threshold space. Because I’m NOT my fingers tapping keys. And yet…. I am the me who taps the keys.

Buddhism is crazy like this!

What I find comforting — while also frustrating — is that ignoring any of these body, mind, spirit, heart, head, dreams is to commit injury (even if minor) to the other components that do make ‘me’ me.

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Here’s my thoughts, since I continue to wonder all over the place with this (in other words? no answers, only good Buddhist questions): when I care for my body, my heart is less burdened. When I listen to my heart, my body isn’t as whiny. And when I work on my dreams ~ integrating body, heart, & mind ~ I’m at my best. I may still be sad (I miss my mother-in-law), but I will at least be able to say this: this is what hurts.

And that’s a LOT better than I’m able to do when the rest of the mobile that is me is atilt. Because if you tug even one of Calder’s brilliant shapes out of balance, the whole mobile goes cockeyed. Kind of like me when I’m hungry!

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